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


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.

“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 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 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.

AL­LI­SON JONES AND PAOLA LORIG­GIO 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.

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