Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to Testify in Liberal Bribery Trial

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne to Testify in Liberal Bribery Trial

Article excerpt

Ontario premier to testify in bribery trial

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A courtroom in Sudbury, Ont., will play host Wednesday to the rare sight of a sitting premier on the stand as Kathleen Wynne testifies in a bribery trial involving a former top adviser and a Liberal fundraiser.

Pat Sorbara, the premier's former deputy chief of staff and Liberal campaign director, and Gerry Lougheed, a local Liberal organizer, are charged under the Election Act, accused of offering would-be candidate Andrew Olivier a job or appointment to get him to step aside for Wynne's preferred candidate in a 2015 byelection in the northern city.

That preferred candidate was then-NDP MP Glenn Thibeault, who ended up winning that byelection for the provincial Liberals and is now energy minister.

Sorbara is also facing a second charge, in relation to an allegation she arranged for paid jobs on the byelection campaign for two of Thibeault's constituency staff, at his request. Both Sorbara and Lougheed have pleaded not guilty.

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.

Wynne also faces no charges, but will be likely asked to testify about what she told Olivier and what conversations she had with Lougheed and Sorbara prior to their conversations with him.

Olivier is quadriplegic and often records important conversations as a form of note taking, and has posted the audio of his conversations with Lougheed and Sorbara.

Lougheed told Olivier that the premier and Sorbara wanted to present him with "appointments, jobs, whatever," as he considers stepping aside. Sorbara told him he should decide if he was interested in "a full-time or part-time job at a constituency office...appointments to boards or commissions. …

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