Wynne to meet with OPP over Sudbury byelection
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 and her deputy chief of staff Pat Sorbara will meet with OPP investigators looking into allegations that a Sudbury byelection candidate was offered a job or appointment to step aside.
No other details were made available but it is an extraordinary event for a sitting premier to be interviewed by police officers investigating a possible breach of the Criminal Code.
“Our views on this matter are well known, any suggestion that anything was offered in exchange for any action is false,” Zita Astravas, a spokesperson for Wynne, said in a statement Monday. “We’ve been clear that the authorities have our full co-operation, and we are confident that after Premier Wynne and Pat Sorbara meet with the investigators, they will reach the same conclusion.”
Investigators with the OPP Anti-Rackets Branch are probing accusations by Andrew Olivier that he was offered a job or appointment to abandon a run for the Liberal nomination and throw his support behind Wynne’s preferred candidate, NDP MP Glenn Thibeault, who won the riding for the Grits last week.
OPP Det.-Const. Erin Thomas said in a production order filed with the courts, that she has reasonable grounds to believe that Sorbara and Liberal organizer Gerry Lougheed Jr. broke the law against “negotiating appointments.”
In recordings of the conversations released by Olivier, both Lougheed and Sorbara suggest they are speaking on behalf of Wynne.
Sorbara, according to an OPP transcript of her discussion with Olivier, talks about the possibility of a job for him in Thibeault’s constituency office or an appointment to a board or commission.
“If there were other things that you’re particularly interested in that, you know, is within her realm to make you part of then she is more than prepared to, you know, do that,” Sorbara says.
Olivier has said that he did not record his separate phone chat with Wynne, but that she did not offer him a job.
The OPP court document has not been proven in a court of law and no one has been charged.
Wynne, Sorbara and Lougheed have publicly denied any wrongdoing.
Lougheed issued a statement previously that said he made no promises to Olivier and had no authority to offer jobs.
Wynne has said that she had simply been attempting to keep a disappointed Olivier engaged with the Ontario Liberal Party.
It is not unusual for discussions to take place with would-be candidates in the run up to an election, such as when a party is attempting to secure more female candidates, she said.