Andrew Olivier, the one-time candidate at the centre of a bribery trial, said he was offered a position in Ontario's Liberal Party but there was no talk of money or a cushy government job if he dropped out of a nomination race and supported Premier Kathleen Wynne's favoured candidate.
The trial of two Ontario Liberals facing bribery allegations entered its second day on Friday and Mr. Olivier, a former candidate who told investigators in 2015 he was offered a job or appointment to drop out of a by-election race in Sudbury, said during cross-examination that any offer would have been for a position within the Liberal Party itself.
Patricia Sorbara, Ms. Wynne's former campaign director, faces two charges in Sudbury under the Election Act, while Gerry Lougheed Jr., a power broker for the Liberals in the city, faces a single charge. Both have denied any wrongdoing.
After reviewing past interviews with investigators from the Ontario Provincial Police and Elections Ontario, Mr. Lougheed's lawyer asked Mr. Olivier during cross-examination on Friday if "he was offered an opportunity to continue to have a role in the party" and not an appointment to a government job. "I wasn't 100-per-cent sure," Mr. Olivier answered.
Mr. Olivier later added that nothing "in the monetary sense" had ever been offered to him in conversations with Ms. Sorbara or Mr. Lougheed. Three conversations between the would-be candidate and the party organizers were recorded by Mr. Olivier, who is quadriplegic.
In one of the conversations, Ms. Sorbara is heard to offer Mr. Oliver what she described as a "consolation prize" after it was revealed that he couldn't run for the Liberals because Premier Wynne was appointing a candidate to run in the Sudbury riding.
While the prosecution has alleged that bribery, as defined by the Election Act, took place in the conversations, the defence lawyers have argued that the conversations only involved a possible nomination process within the party and falls not under provincial law, but the Liberal Party constitution.
"The only thing Ms. Sorbara is suggesting to you is that there is a place in the party for you," suggested the woman's lawyer, Brian Greenspan, after parts of a recorded conversation were reviewed in court. "Yeah," Mr. Olivier replied.
The bribery section of the Election Act says no person shall directly or indirectly "give, procure or promise or agree to procure an office or employment to induce a person to become a candidate, refrain from becoming a candidate or withdraw his or her candidacy."
Mr. Olivier has agreed in court that he was never the party's candidate during the 2015 by-election. He had been the party's candidate in the 2014 general election, where he finished second.
Glenn Thibeault, a New Democrat MP, resigned his federal seat and was appointed by Ms. Wynne as the Liberal candidate in Sudbury for the by-election. Mr. Thibeault won the election and is now Ontario's Energy Minister.
Mr. Lougheed, Ms. Sorbara and Ms. Wynne spoke with Mr. Olivier in the days before the Premier publicly announced that Mr. Thibeault would carry the party's flag. Ms. Wynne has said that the conversations were meant to keep the man in the party. In text messages shown in court on Friday, Mr. Thibeault again extended an offer of a position in the party to Mr. Olivier after he was appointed as the Liberal candidate.
There was a sense of urgency for Liberals in the riding at the time. The one-time Liberal fortress had fallen to the NDP in the 2014 general election; however, the New Democrat who won the seat resigned months later owing to health concerns. Ms. Wynne wanted the riding back. When Mr. Thibeault came forward, the federal New Democrat was the perfect candidate, according to prosecutors in the case, because he would attract both Liberal and NDP voters and ensure a win.
Ms. Wynne is due to testify in Sudbury on Wednesday.