Wynne Lib­er­als threw a quad­ri­plegic un­der the bus

Toronto Sun - - NEWS - MARK BONOKOSKI mark­bonokoski@gmail.com @Mark­Bonokoski

What we have learned thus far from the bribery trial go­ing on in Sud­bury is that the Wynne Lib­er­als are so cold and cal­cu­lated that they had no qualms throw­ing a quad­ri­plegic un­der the bus.

This takes some brass. When run­ning for the Lib­er­als in the 2014 provin­cial elec­tion, Andrew Olivier, a mort­gage spe­cial­ist par­a­lyzed from the chest down since 14 fol­low­ing a ban­tam mi­nor hockey ac­ci­dent, man­aged to come within a hand­ful of votes of de­feat­ing NDP can­di­date Joe Cimino.

He would get no se­cond chance.

Premier Kath­leen Wynne, in the wit­ness box last week at the trial of two high­rank­ing Lib­er­als charged with bribery in re­la­tion to al­legedly fid­dling with the 2015 by­elec­tion, tes­ti­fied Wed­nes­day that Olivier “hadn’t been a great can­di­date.”

She said she wanted to “keep him in­volved” in the party, but didn’t want his name on the bal­lot.

Her rea­son?

It pur­port­edly had noth­ing to do with sure-thing fed­eral MP Glenn Thibeault knock­ing on her back door, and want­ing to switch sides and to down­size — as in leav­ing the fed­eral NDP to run for less dough as a provin­cial Lib­eral.

No, ac­cord­ing to Wynne, it was com­ments Olivier made dur­ing the 2014 elec­tion cam­paign about merg­ing Catholic school boards with the pub­lic ones that was “an­ti­thet­i­cal” to her party.

An­ti­thet­i­cal

Now there’s a humdinger of a word. An­ti­thet­i­cal.

No need to run to your Funk & Wag­nalls, how­ever. It means “mu­tu­ally in­com­pat­i­ble.”

So, un­der the bus went Olivier, wheel­chair and all, which is why Pat Sor­bara, Wynne’s for­mer chief of staff and cam­paign di­rec­tor, and Gerry Lougheed, a Sud­bury funeral home di­rec­tor and Lib­eral bag­man, are now fac­ing charges un­der the Elec­tions Act.

This is harsh crit­i­cism re­gard­ing Olivier’s treat­ment, and even harsher op­tics, but some­one had to say it.

With the prospect of Thibeault turn­ing his back on the fed­eral NDP to carry his Sud­bury ban­ner for the

Wynne Lib­er­als, all pro­gres­sive lib­eral thought about af­fir­ma­tive ac­tion and in­clu­sive­ness for the dis­abled was quickly tossed in the trash bin.

Olivier was not get­ting the premier’s nod, de­spite com­ing oh-so-close in 2014.

Thibeault had all but promised vic­tory.

As he wrote in one telling e-mail, “My folks here in Sud­bury will fol­low me. They are loyal to me, and not the (NDP).”

It worked out well for the Lib­er­als, of course.

Thibeault hand­ily won the 2015 by­elec­tion, sup­pos­edly with no in­cen­tives promised, or propo­si­tions made, be­cause that would be both un­eth­i­cal and il­le­gal.

But to­day he sits in Wynne’s cab­i­net as min­is­ter of En­ergy.

Surely, this is mere co­in­ci­dence.

The Lib­er­als, with­out ques­tion, are a crafty crew, how­ever, and very adept at the art of de­cep­tion and de­flec­tion.

On the very morn­ing Wynne was set to tes­tify, for ex­am­ple, she had her lawyers pub­licly raise the threat of li­bel ac­tion against Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive Leader Pa­trick Brown for mis­s­peak­ing that Wynne, her­self, was on trial.

As a re­sult, it was the prime topic for ra­dio talk shows all that day, and even the lead item on many news­casts. It was very clever of them. Bril­liant, even.

Poised, con­fi­dent

Wynne, by all ac­counts, was poised and con­fi­dent on the wit­ness stand, al­though no doubt unim­pressed by the artists’ court­room sketches that leave sub­lim­i­nal mes­sages of be­ing an ac­cused.

A colum­nist for The Toronto Star, a news­pa­per that can al­ways be counted upon to find a Lib­eral pony un­der a pile of ma­nure, opined that there may be many rea­sons not to vote for the Wynne Lib­er­als again, but this bribery trial isn’t one of them.

If throw­ing a quad­ri­plegic un­der a bus for po­lit­i­cal gain doesn’t qual­ify, then God for­bid what will.

Andrew Olivier leaves court fol­low­ing the first day in an Elec­tion Act bribery trial in Sud­bury.

THIBEAULT Jumped ship

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