Blizzard

Liberals won byelection, but lost their way

By Christina Blizzard, Special to the Sun

Ont. MPP-elect Glenn Thibeault celebrates his election victory with wife, Yolanda, daughter, Thea, and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne Sudbury, Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015. (JOHN LAPPA/QMI AGENCY)

Ont. MPP-elect Glenn Thibeault celebrates his election victory with wife, Yolanda, daughter, Thea, and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne Sudbury, Thursday, Feb. 5, 2015. (JOHN LAPPA/QMI AGENCY)

SUDBURY - 

Who won the byelection here Thursday?

No one.

Oh, sure, the vote count gave Liberal Glenn Thibeault the win by more than 1,000 votes over New Democrat Suzanne Shawbonquit.

But everyone is a loser.

This whole sordid mess was an affront to democracy.

Jaw-dropping allegations released Thursday of criminal wrongdoing reaching deep into the premier’s office leave you feeling as if you want to shake the dirt from your boots.

And it wasn’t Sudbury’s fault.

No, no.

This was a pox, a travesty imposed on unsuspecting voters in the middle of winter by a handful of Toronto-based Liberal elites who allegedly thought they could use sleazy tactics worthy of some tinpot dictator in a banana republic to win votes.

Police allege Ontario Liberals illegally tried to lure Sudbury byelection candidate Andrew Olivier into dropping out of the byelection with an offer of a job or appointment, an OPP document says.

Olivier ran for the Liberals in the June general election, almost winning the seat for them. New Democrat Joe Cimino was sent to Queen’s Park, but quit in November, citing family reasons.

Olivier recorded conversations he had with senior Liberals which, the OPP allege, show he was offered a job or an appointment to step aside and not seek the nomination — and that violates the Criminal Code.

How many investigations does it take by the OPP anti-rackets squad for folk to realize that something is seriously wrong with this Liberal government they keep re-electing?

They have no moral compass.

We’ve got the ongoing investigation into the Ornge air ambulance scandal happening as well as the investigation into what happened when senior staff in former premier Dalton McGuinty’s office deleted e-mails in an alleged attempt to cover up what happened when they scrapped two gas plants — at a cost of $1.1 billion.

I spent four days in Sudbury this week, talking to people about the byelection, interviewing the candidates. Here’s what I learned: Sudbury deserves better than this.

This gritty mining city is full of great people who treat you with respect.

The people have heart and good humour.

And the Liberals played them for fools.

I don’t think they’ll do that again. This was a tight race, with the NDP and Olivier both putting in strong showings.

Once again, as she did after court documents were released on the gas plant scandal, Wynne asserted there was nothing to see here.

In a statement Thursday, a spokesman for the premier suggested this was all routine.

“It is common for an investigator to make an assertion in an ITO in order to obtain a warrant. It is in no way confirmation that an offense has occurred,” said Zita Astravas in an e-mail.

Well, once upon a time, it was uncommon for any premier to be under police investigation.

Now there are three.

And mark my words, there may not have been a recording of a conversation with Wynne, nevertheless, Gerry Lougheed, a senior Sudbury Liberal, says he is speaking on behalf of the premier.

Olivier also talked to Pat Sorbara, a senior staff member in Wynne’s office.

This reaches into the highest levels of the premier’s office.

Whatever the court may decide, there are some simple truths.

These arrogant Liberals have lost touch with voters. They’ve almost lost touch with reality. Even if it turns out these allegations are not true, the fact is they play stupid, immoral games with byelections.

Pushing aside a quadriplegic candidate in favour of their own star turncoat is disgraceful and disgusting.

It’s up to the police and Crown to decide if charges should be laid.

The court of public opinion will find this is a big, ugly poke in the eye for common decency and democracy.

Everyone loses when elections are debased and candidates are demoralized in such a shameful fashion.

Next time, premier, remember this: The best way to win elections is with good government. Try it for a change.

christina.blizzard@sunmedia.ca

 


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