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Wynne to meet Elections Ontario over Sudbury byelection claims

By Antonella Artuso, Queen's Park Bureau Chief

Premier Kathleen Wynne at Queen's Park on Monday, Jan. 26, 2015, says she welcomes Elections Ontario investigation into allegations her party offered a would-by Sudbury byelection candidate a job or appointment not to run. (Antonella Artuso/Toronto Sun)

Premier Kathleen Wynne at Queen's Park on Monday, Jan. 26, 2015, says she welcomes Elections Ontario investigation into allegations her party offered a would-by Sudbury byelection candidate a job or appointment not to run. (Antonella Artuso/Toronto Sun)

TORONTO - 

Premier Kathleen Wynne has agreed to meet with Elections Ontario officials to answer to allegations that the Liberal Party tried to use a job or appointment to encourage a would-be Sudbury byelection candidate to drop out of the race.

Wynne and campaign director Pat Sorbara will speak with Elections Ontario this week, although an exact date was not made public.

“I’m pleased that Elections Ontario is moving forward,” Wynne said Monday. “We’ve been very clear about what the interaction was, that there were no specific offers made ... that many of the allegations that have been made by the opposition parties are false.”

Elections Ontario is investigating a complaint that Wynne and Liberals acting on her behalf offered Andrew Olivier — who carried the party banner in the riding of Sudbury in last spring’s general election — some form of position not to seek the nomination in the current byelection.

Olivier released recordings of two conversations he had with Sorbara and a well-known Sudbury Liberal during which he was told he was being replaced this time around with Sudbury MP Glenn Thibeault, who left the federal NDP to run on behalf of the provincial Liberals.

It is a violation of the Election Act to offer a financial incentive, such as a job or position, to encourage someone to run or not run for office.

“We’re glad Elections Ontario is taking this seriously so there will be no doubt that the allegations are false,” Ontario Liberal Party executive director Simon Tunstall said in a statement. “We welcome the opportunity to tell Elections Ontario directly what we’ve said all along — that after the premier told Andrew Olivier that he would not be the candidate, Patricia Sorbara re-iterated the premier’s decision and discussed ways Olivier could remain involved in the party or in matters related to his own personal and stated interests, such as accessibility issues.”

Olivier, a quadriplegic, had already been told that he would not be the candidate and no specific offers were made, Tunstall said. He said Wynne had already exercised her right as party leader to name a candidate.

Opposition parties at Queen’s Park called for the investigation after Olivier went public with his concern that he had been offered a job not to seek the nomination.

NDP MPP Gilles Bisson said the Liberals were clearly trying to game the system, and he dismissed the party statement as “damage control.”

Thibeault issued his own statement Monday, accusing the NDP of disseminating false information, and said he would “gladly” meet with Elections Ontario if asked.

“I’m confident they will find that the allegations aren’t true,” he said.

Olivier is running as an independent in the Feb. 5 byelection.

antonella.artuso@sunmedia.ca

 


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