Two Ontario Liberal Party employees who were allegedly given jobs in MPP Glenn Thibeault's office in exchange for his defection from the federal NDP testified today on the sixth day of the Sudbury byelection bribery trial.
Darrell Marsh and Brian Band worked for Thibeault during his run as a New Democratic Party MP for Sudbury, then again for him after his win as a Liberal MPP in the 2015 Sudbury byelection.
It's alleged that Liberal Party chief executive Pat Sorbara offered incentives to Thibeault for jumping ship, the paid positions for Marsh and Band being among them.
It's those jobs, worth a total of $4,800, that the Crown and OPP investigators say constitute a bribe under the Election Act.
"It wasn't a job," Darrell Marsh testified Thursday. "I didn't have an employment contract or anything like this."
Marsh says he came to Sudbury in 2012 when he got a part-time in Thibeault's MP constituency office.
"We became friends," said Marsh.
He remembers there was much discussion in the office when Thibeault was considering running in the provincial byelection and worry about the future of the jobs for the three staffers.
Marsh says that Dec. 16, 2014, the day Thibeault was announced as the provincial Liberal candidate "wasn't a very nice day" in his NDP constituency office.
"People came in yelling … I remember seeing friends crying and people who worked hard for the NDP, upset," Marsh told the court.
"We had to shut the office down early, because we couldn't take it any more."
Marsh lost his job in the NDP office upon Thibeault's resignation, but soon after told Thibeault he wanted to work on his Liberal byelection campaign.
"I was going to help Glenn because Glenn was my friend," says Marsh, adding that he "didn't have a good relationship" with the NDP.
When asked by Crown prosecutor David McKercher about his financial situation, Marsh said he didn't go to work on Thibeault's campaign or afterwards in the provincial constituency office because he was desperate for work.
"I wasn't broke and needed to find a job, no," Marsh testified.
He was paid $2,000 for his work during the byelection, which he invoiced as "professional consulting services" because he didn't have a specific role on the campaign.
'He was my friend. That was my decision.'
It was a similar story for the other staffer who followed Thibeault to the Liberals from the NDP, Brian Band.
He said he volunteered for the byelection campaign and then was told part way through that he'd be paid $2,800 for "professional consulting services" although he also testified that he didn't have a specific job on the campaign.
"He was my friend. That was my decision," said Band.
Band, who was hired by Thibeault shortly after he was elected as Sudbury MP in 2008, said he had "brief conversations" with Thibeault about what defecting to the Ontario Liberals would mean for his job, but he testified that no specific plan was laid out.
"I didn't know what the future was going to be at that point," Band testified.
Both Band and Marsh moved on to work in Thibeault's provincial Liberal constituency office after the byelection and were on staff there until recently.
The major witness on the alleged bribe offered by Sorbara to Thibeault will be the Sudbury MPP and energy minister himself, set to testify Tuesday.
On Thursday, the court heard of an email Thibeault wrote before the byelection started.
"My folks here in Sudbury will follow me," Thibeault wrote.
"They're loyal to me and not the party."
Sorbara and Sudbury businessman Gerry Lougheed are also charged with bribing past Sudbury Liberal candidate Andrew Olivier to step aside to make way for Thibeault to run in the byelection.
The prosecution is expected to wrap up its case Wednesday next week, with dates set aside in October for the defence to present evidence.
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Who's who in the byelection bribery trial
- Pat Sorbara, former Liberal Party CEO, campaign director and deputy chief-of-staff to the premier.
- Gerry Lougheed Jr., Liberal organizer and a Sudbury businessman.
Judge: Howard Borenstein, from Toronto.
Prosecutors: David McKercher, Vern Brewer and Rick Visca.
Defence lawyers: Michael Lacy for Lougheed, Brian Greenspan and Erin Dann for Sorbara.
Witnesses to be called by the Crown (in anticipated order):
- Andrew Olivier: 2014 Ontario Liberal candidate, who accused the party of bribing him to stand aside in the 2015 byelection for star candidate and now Sudbury MPP and Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault.
- Simon Tunstall, chief executive officer of the Ontario Liberal party 2012 to 2015.
- Aaron St. Pierre, Olivier's campaign manager.
- Rick Bartolucci, former Sudbury MPP and cabinet minister.
- Kathleen Wynne, premier of Ontario.
- William Nurmi, then president of the Sudbury provincial Liberal riding association.
- Dominic Giroux, then president of Laurentian University, incoming president of Health Sciences North.
- Siloni Waraich, past president of Liberal Party of Ontario.
- Andre Bisson, then vice-president of Sudbury provincial Liberal riding association.
- Darrell Marsh, who worked in Thibeault's NDP MP constituency office, then moved to Liberals with him.
- Brian Band, who worked in Thibeault's NDP MP constituency office, then moved to Liberals with him.
- Marianne Matichuk, former Greater Sudbury mayor, who was interested in running for Ontario Liberals.
- Vince Borg, past president of the Ontario Liberal Party.
- Kim Donaldson, nomination commissioner for Ontario Liberal Party.
- Azam Ishmael, executive director Ontario Liberal Party.
- Neil Downs, director of the public appointments secretariat for government of Ontario.
- Shelley Potter, deputy chief of staff to premier of Ontario.
- Glenn Thibeault, former NDP MP for Sudbury, now Sudbury Liberal MPP and energy minister.