The Ontario Liberals paid Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault $3,500 when he ran for the party in a by-election in Sudbury last year.
The payment is listed on a sheet attached to the Liberals’ financial disclosure for the vote in February, 2015. The purpose of the payment is listed as “income replacement.”
Mr. Thibeault is under scrutiny this week after Patricia Sorbara, a former top adviser to Premier Kathleen Wynne, was charged with bribing him to quit his job as a federal New Democrat MP and run for the Liberals. In a sworn information sheet, Ontario Provincial Police investigators alleged Ms. Sorbara offered Mr. Thibeault an “office or employment to induce” him to become a candidate.
The OPP have not said what Ms. Sorbara is alleged to have offered Mr. Thibeault – a cabinet position or something else.
The NDP also paid their candidate in the Sudbury by-election. The party’s disclosure lists $1,000 for Suzanne Shawbonquit as a “candidate replacement salary.”
Police would not say on Thursday whether the charges had anything to do with the $3,500 paid to Mr. Thibeault.
“I have no information that I can provide in response to your question,” Detective-Superintendent Dave Truax, director of the OPP’s criminal investigation services, wrote in an e-mail.
Mr. Thibeault’s lawyer, Ian Smith, said his client got the money from the Liberals “well after” he received the nomination.
“That payment was neither requested nor offered as any kind of inducement to become the candidate,” Mr. Smith wrote in an e-mail. “It was simply a means of ensuring Mr. Thibeault had some income after he resigned his seat in the House of Commons and before he was elected to the Legislature.”
Ms. Sorbara, who was CEO and campaign director of the Liberal Party before stepping down this week, and Sudbury Liberal fundraiser Gerry Lougheed were recorded discussing government jobs with former candidate Andrew Olivier when they were trying to persuade him to quit the by-election nomination race to make way for Mr. Thibeault.
The OPP charged Ms. Sorbara and Mr. Lougheed with bribery under the provincial Election Act this week. Ms. Sorbara also faces an additional count related to the alleged bribery of Mr. Thibeault, which came to light this week as a result of the police charge. Ms. Sorbara and Mr. Lougheed have denied they did anything wrong.
Mr. Thibeault won the by-election and spent 16 months on the backbench before being promoted to cabinet in June.
Mr. Thibeault faced an hour-long barrage of opposition demands for his resignation in Question Period on Thursday.
Progressive Conservative Deputy Leader Steve Clark listed past cabinet ministers who stepped down temporarily during investigations or legal proceedings involving associates. “This Liberal government has killed a lot of traditions in this province, but it’s sad to say they’ve killed the tradition – actually, no, the duty –of ministerial responsibility,” he said.
NDP Deputy Leader Jagmeet Singh added: “Why will the minister not step down and prove to Ontarians that they’re capable of putting aside their blind partisanship?”
Ms. Wynne fired back: “The Minister of Energy is under no investigation. This matter is before the court.”
Afterward, Mr. Thibeault repeated that he was not offered anything to run for the Liberals and that he had wanted to leave the federal NDP caucus, where he had a tense relationship with Leader Tom Mulcair.
“I did this because … I needed to leave federal politics. I wasn’t happy where I was at,” he said. “This opportunity presented itself.”Report Typo/Error