Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Liberal Bribery Trial Hears Details of Allegations Involving Ex-NDP MP Thibeault

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Liberal Bribery Trial Hears Details of Allegations Involving Ex-NDP MP Thibeault

Article excerpt

Liberal trial hears details of allegations


SUDBURY, Ont. - Former New Democrat MP Glenn Thibeault asked for paid jobs for constituency office staffers in exchange for running in a provincial byelection that Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne was "determined" to win, a Liberal bribery trial heard Thursday.

Pat Sorbara, who was at the time the Ontario Liberal Party CEO, and Gerry Lougheed, a local Liberal fundraiser are accused under the Election Act of offering would-be candidate Andrew Olivier a job or appointment to get him to step aside for Thibeault, who was Wynne's preferred candidate in a 2015 byelection in Sudbury, Ont.

Sorbara is also facing a second charge, in relation to an alleged offer made to Thibeault to get him to become the candidate.

In addition to the paid positions for two of his staffers, Thibeault wanted income replacement for himself and full support of the Ontario Liberals, federal prosecutor David McKercher said in his opening statement.

Thibeault has previously denied he sought anything that would be seen as a bribe in exchange for running and is not charged with any offences.

Both Sorbara and Lougheed pleaded not guilty on Thursday.

Their lawyers say the Crown's allegations wrongly use the term "candidate" interchangeably with "party nominee" and only candidacy processes are governed by the Election Act.

"The process that took place and whatever may have occurred during those not in relation to a candidate in the byelection but rather exclusively in relation to the Liberal nominee in that byelection," said Sorbara's lawyer, Brian Greenspan.

"(Thibeault) was going to be appointed, as was her (Wynne's) right under the Liberal constitution," said Lougheed's lawyer, Michael Lacy. "There was never going to be a contested nomination process in this riding for that byelection. Mr. Olivier's wishful thinking in that regard does not transform him into a candidate for the purpose of the Ontario Election Act."

The Liberals had held the Sudbury riding for nearly two decades before losing it in the 2014 general election to the NDP, but the New Democrat MPP stepped down months later for health reasons.

"The premier was determined to win the Sudbury seat back in the byelection," McKercher said. …

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