Tory leadership candidate Leslyn Lewis being sued by former campaign manager

OTTAWA-Conservative leadership candidate Leslyn Lewis is being sued by her former campaign manager, who claims he was not fully paid for his work on her 2020 bid for the party’s top job.

John Mykytyshyn is seeking $175,000, which he says represents money he is owed plus damages for the manner in which he was fired, according to a statement of claim filed in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice on March 8.

The veteran Conservative campaigner filed the lawsuit on the same day Lewis entered this year’s Conservative leadership race, with a team that includes the same campaign manager she hired after cutting ties with Mykytyshyn in 2020.

The allegations have not been proven in court.

Lewis’s lawyer said she was served with notice of the lawsuit on Wednesday and has yet to file a statement of defence.

“This lawsuit from a disgruntled former contractor of Dr. Lewis’s previous campaign was designed solely to embarrass her,” Darryl Singer wrote in an email to the Star.

“In fact, it is Mr. Mykytyshyn who will be embarrassed when the truth of the allegations comes out in court, and Dr. Lewis looks forward to defending her stellar reputation at an eventual trial.”

Mykytyshyn became Lewis’s campaign manager in the early days of the 2020 leadership contest, and was to be paid $15,000 per month, the claim says.

The race began that January, and was set to conclude with the election of a new party leader in June. The COVID-19 pandemic ultimately delayed the election until August 2020.

Mykytyshyn’s statement of claim says he never signed a formal employment contract, but was given “wide-ranging” authority to run the campaign before his employment was “terminated suddenly and without any prior warning” by email on March 13.

He says he was told he’d been the one to withdraw his services, something he says was “patently untrue” as he was still working for the campaign, including on the day he was fired.

The statement of claim says Mykytyshyn was paid for the first three months of the year, and sent the Lewis campaign invoices for the remaining months of the campaign period. It says he received no response until October 2020, when he was told the Lewis campaign would “not be paying any money” to him because he’d left the job.

The money he’s asking for represents the balance owed, plus interest, as well as damages, the statement says.

Mykytyshyn declined to comment when contacted by the Star.

Lewis is now the Conservative MP for the riding of Haldimand-Norfolk. She previously worked with a local riding association in Toronto and ran for the Tories in the 2015 federal election, but was not widely known in Conservative circles when she entered the 2020 leadership race.

Her campaign eventually raised $2 million, and Lewis made a strong showing in early-round balloting before she finished third in the vote behind Erin O’Toole and Peter Mackay.

None of that would have been possible without Mykytyshyn, the statement of claim says.

“The fact is the Lewis campaign continued to benefit from Mr. Mykytyshyn’s reputation, network and positive associations for long after his contract was terminated,” it says.


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