On­tario premier, Op­po­si­tion leader in stand­off over com­ments made about Wynne

North Bay Nugget - - NATIONAL NEWS - Al­li­son Jones and Paola loriggio

TOrONTO — The long-awaited gas plants trial of two top aides to On­tario’s for­mer premier in Toronto could be de­layed yet again.

As hap­pened ear­lier in the week, the de­fence com­plained Thurs­day again about a lack of in­for­ma­tion pro­vided by the pros­e­cu­tion.

Lawyers for David Liv­ingston and Laura Miller said they might need an­other week-long ad­journ­ment — un­til Sept. 25.

TOrONTO — On­tario Premier Kath­leen Wynne was con­sid­er­ing her le­gal op­tions Thurs­day af­ter the Op­po­si­tion leader re­fused to re­tract com­ments that she warned could lead to a defama­tion law­suit.

Wynne’s open­ing shot to Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive Leader Pa­trick Brown came Wed­nes­day, min­utes be­fore she tes­ti­fied as a wit­ness in a trial in Sud­bury, Ont., in­volv­ing two Lib­er­als fac­ing Elec­tion Act bribery charges.

Her lawyers sent Brown a let­ter de­mand­ing he with­draw com­ments that sug­gested Wynne is per­son­ally on trial and apol­o­gize.

The next day, Brown made it clear he wouldn’t be do­ing ei­ther. He re­sponded to mul­ti­ple ques­tions about why by re­peat­ing that it was a “sad day for On­tario” to see the premier “hu­mil­i­ated” by tes­ti­fy­ing in court.

“No one wants to see a sit­ting premier de­based,” he said. “I think it’s im­por­tant that we move on.”

Brown called the le­gal threat “base­less,” even though Wynne pre­vi­ously sued Brown’s pre­de­ces­sor, for­mer Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive leader Tim Hu­dak.

In­stead, the judge made it clear he wants the trial started, and sent the par­ties to a room to work out their dif­fer­ences.

They later emerged to say they had made some progress and would re­port back on Fri­day.

The aides to then-premier Dal­ton McGuinty face three charges over deleted e-mails about the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to can­cel two gas plants just be­fore the 2011 elec­tion.

The trial was to have started hear­ing wit­nesses last Mon­day but was de­layed a week over the dis­clo­sure

“I will ig­nore her base­less threat,” he said.

Wynne, speak­ing to The Cana­dian Press in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., wouldn’t say whether she will pro­ceed with a law­suit.

“We’ll see what hap­pens,” she said. “My let­ter stands. It speaks for it­self.”

Wynne said her lawyers are dis­cussing the next steps, while they said they’re await­ing in­struc­tions from her.

Jack Siegel, Wynne’s lawyer, called Brown’s re­sponse “ex­tremely is­sue, with the par­ties to re­port back to the court on Thurs­day. Liv­ingston’s lawyer, Brian Gover, kicked off the day’s pro­ceed­ings by in­di­cat­ing the de­fence would be need­ing an­other ad­journ­ment.

“Let me be­gin with the up­shot: The dis­clo­sure is still in­com­plete,” Gover told On­tario court judge Ti­mothy Lip­son. “We should ad­journ for an ad­di­tional week so that the Crown can com­ply.”

Gover rhymed off a list of com­plaints, sug­gest­ing the pros­e­cu­tion had failed to fol­low the court’s direc­tions from ear­lier this week. dis­ap­point­ing.”

“Fair po­lit­i­cal crit­i­cism is one thing, but as a pub­lic fig­ure him­self, one might have thought that he would rec­og­nize that un­truths that de­fame an­other politi­cian are un­ac­cept­able,” Siegel said in a state­ment.

Brown’s of­fice had pre­vi­ously sug­gested he mis­spoke. Siegel ques­tioned why Brown wouldn’t just re­tract the com­ments if that was the case.

“Mr. Brown’s re­fusal to take that sim­ple step there­fore sug­gests that

The ma­te­rial at is­sue, the lawyer said, re­lates to up­dated po­lice and pros­e­cu­tion notes of wit­ness in­ter­views.

Crown lawyer Tom Le­mon de­fended the pros­e­cu­tion’s ef­fort to fol­low the dis­clo­sure in­struc­tions Lip­son gave on Mon­day when he put the case over.

“We feel we have com­plied,” Le­mon said. “In our view we were overly gen­er­ous.”

Liv­ingston and Miller have pleaded not guilty to charges of breach of trust, un­law­ful use of a com­puter, and mis­chief. this was not an ac­ci­dent and that his re­marks were de­lib­er­ately made with the in­ten­tion of harm­ing the rep­u­ta­tion of the premier,” Siegel wrote.

At is­sue are com­ments Brown made Tues­day about the premier’s role in the bribery case.

“I hope that the premier will give us an­swers, maybe when she stands trial,” he said. “That in it­self is as­ton­ish­ing, that we’ve got a sit­ting premier, sit­ting in trial an­swer­ing ques­tions about th­ese al­le­ga­tions of bribery, that in it­self is as­ton­ish­ing of (how) far this gov­ern­ment has fallen.”

Wynne is not on trial or even un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion, but of­fered vol­un­tary tes­ti­mony, her lawyers noted. Wynne could have used par­lia­men­tary priv­i­lege to avoid tes­ti­fy­ing.

This is the sec­ond time in a week that the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment has threat­enedle­galac­tionover­re­marks made by a Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive mem­ber of the pro­vin­cial leg­is­la­ture about the Sud­bury trial.

Last week, Bill Walker told a ra­dio sta­tion Wynne was un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion and fac­ing charges in con­nec­tion with the bribery trial. He is­sued a state­ment apol­o­giz­ing for the re­marks.

TOrONTO — The man head­ing up On­tario’s ef­fort to lure Ama­zon to the prov­ince said Thurs­day that while the prov­ince would con­sider sen­si­ble in­cen­tives, the bid will not of­fer bil­lions in sub­si­dies to the tech gi­ant.

Pro­vid­ing large tax­payer sub­si­dies to the firm wouldn’t be fair to other com­pa­nies that have set up shop in On­tario with lit­tle or no gov­ern­ment as­sis­tance, said Ed Clark, who was ap­pointed last week by Premier Kath­leen Wynne to head up the Greater Toronto re­gion’s bid to be­come the home of Ama­zon’s new cor­po­rate head­quar­ters.

The re­gion’s bid to Ama­zon founder and CEO Jeff Be­zos will high­light other strengths such as the prov­ince’s skilled work­force, Clark said, adding that the prov­ince would be will­ing to make other con­tri­bu­tions like help­ing the com­pany se­cure land.

“There are clearly places in the united States that will, I use the word, bribe, peo­ple to come,” he said. “(They) say you just tell us what cheque you want us to write, we will write that cheque. We’re not in that busi­ness.”

If that’s what Ama­zon is look­ing for, On­tario will not win, said Clark, who re­tired as an ex­ec­u­tive with TD Bank in 2014.

“But we have proven peo­ple are com­ing to Toronto right now, and to On­tario, be­cause we’ve just got fan­tas­tic peo­ple.”

The on­line re­tail gi­ant an­nounced ear­lier this month that it is hunt­ing for a sec­ond North Amer­i­can of­fice, say­ing it would spend $5 bil­lion to build the new head­quar­ters to house as many as 50,000 em­ploy­ees.

The com­pany said it wants to be near a metropoli­tan area with more than a mil­lion peo­ple; be able to at­tract top tech­ni­cal tal­ent; be within 45 min­utes of an in­ter­na­tional air­port; have di­rect ac­cess to mass tran­sit; and be able to ex­pand that head­quar­ters to more than 740,000 square me­tres in the next decade.

Peter PoWer/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS fIlES

Premier Kath­leen Wynne’s lawyers wrote a let­ter to Pa­trick Brown on Wed­nes­day ask­ing that he with­draw com­ments he made about her or face a defama­tion law­suit.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.