Bribery trial un­der­way in Sud­bury

Crown says Thibeault wanted paid po­si­tions for of­fice staffers

Northern News (Kirkland Lake) - - NEWS -

SUD­BURY - The bribery trial of two On­tario Liberals has heard that for­mer NDP MP Glenn Thibeault asked for paid jobs for two of his con­stituency of­fice staffers in ex­change for run­ning in a 2015 by­elec­tion in Sud­bury, Ont.

Pat Sor­bara, who was at the time the On­tario Lib­eral Party CEO, and Gerry Lougheed, a lo­cal Lib­eral fundraiser, are both 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 Premier Kath­leen Wynne’s pre­ferred can­di­date.

Fed­eral Crown prose­cu­tor David McKercher in his open­ing state­ment Thurs­day said in or­der for Thibeault to take the risk of leav­ing his po­si­tion as a fed­eral MP, he wanted in­come re­place­ment for him­self, full sup­port of the On­tario Liberals and paid po­si­tions on the by­elec­tion cam­paign for two of his con­stituency of­fice staff.

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

Thibeault has pre­vi­ously de­nied he sought any­thing that would be seen as a bribe in ex­change for run­ning and both Sor­bara and Lougheed pleaded not guilty to­day.

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 con­ver­sa­tions... is 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, and when the New Demo­crat MPP stepped down months later for health rea­sons, Premier Kath­leen Wynne was de­ter­mined to win it back in a by­elec­tion, McKercher said.

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