Premier Wynne testified Wednesday in an Election Act trial in Sudbury. It was the first time in recent memory a sitting member of parliament waived her privilege to do so.
The Premier was first up on the stand, starting at 9:00 am and ending early in the afternoon. Wynne made it clear on the stand that the Liberals really wanted to win the Sudbury seat back, after losing it to the NDP in 2014.
When she heard Federal Sudbury NDP MP Glenn Thibeault wanted to run for the Ontario Liberals, she was interested. She met Thibeault in her home and they connected and liked each other, she said. She called him a sincere and smart man. She says she decided then that if Thibeault would run, he would be the candidate.
Gerry Lougheed is a Liberal fundraiser from Sudbury, and Pat Sorbara was Wynne’s then-deputy chief of staff. They are charged with bribery under the Election Act. They are both recorded in conversations with Andrew Olivier who ran and lost in 2014, but wanted to run again. They asked him what other role he’d like to play in the party. They mention boards and commissions.
The Premier also called Olivier. She says it was the decent thing to do, rather than have him hear of the appointment of Thibeault elsewhere. She too mentioned other ways he could support the party but she said it was never in exchange for stepping aside, Olivier would still have to follow whatever process was required. She just wanted him to know he was a valued member of the party.
The Liberals can appoint up to five candidates per election. The Premier said that Andrew Olivier was not a strong candidate in 2014 and the riding was in a bit of disarray. The other northern ridings all stayed Liberal and increased their Liberal margins. Also Olivier spoke publicly on issues that were contrary to the Liberal party policy, like getting rid of the Catholic School Board.
The Premier’s testimony is finished, the bribery trial continues.