Top 10 moments of the Sudbury byelection trial (so far)
Top Liberals Pat Sorbara and Gerry Lougheed have stood trial for bribery for 10 days now
With the Sudbury, Ont. byelection bribery trial taking a two week break, it's time to look back on some of the relevant (and less relevant) moments of the testimony so far.
Former Liberal CEO and campaign director Pat Sorbara and prominent Sudbury businessman Gerry Lougheed are charged with bribing former candidate Andrew Olivier to step aside so NDP MP Glenn Thibeault could switch to the Liberals and run in the 2015 byelection.
Sorbara is also charged with a second count of bribery under the Election Act with bribing Thibeault to become a Liberal.
- Liberal bribery trial on recess until October, defence calls for all charges to be dismissed
- Sudbury byelection trial: 'Hey Gerry, I'm becoming a Liberal'
1. A premier on the stand
It's not every day that a sitting premier testifies before a court of law. But Sept. 13, 2017 was the day Premier Kathleen Wynne came to Sudbury to testify about her role in the Liberal Party leading into the 2015 Sudbury byelection. Some two dozen journalists from Toronto followed her to Sudbury and her testimony got the most coverage, but was somewhat secondary to the actual case before the court.
2. Glenn "The Unicorn" Thibeault
Former Liberal Party nomination commissioner Kim Donaldson said that Thibeault was more than a "star candidate" or a "blue sky candidate" as other Liberals called him, but a "unicorn" since landing a New Democrat defector was really a dream for a party struggling to find a candidate to unify the "warring" Sudbury Liberals. But Donaldson and almost every other Liberal who testified, including Premier Kathleen Wynne, had no idea who Thibeault was when they first heard he might be interested in running for them.
3. Andrew Olivier left the Liberals hanging
Former Liberal candidate Andrew Olivier spoke with Liberal CEO Pat Sorbara, Sudbury power broker Gerry Lougheed and newly minted Liberal Glenn Thibeault between Dec. 11 and Dec. 13, 2014. They were all waiting to hear back from him on Dec. 15 about whether or not he would stay involved with the party and play some role on Thibeault's campaign. Instead, that day he held a press conference accusing them of pushing him aside for a star candidate. Thibeault and Sorbara both texted Olivier after that and got no reply.
4. "Who is Brian Band?"
One of the strangest moments of the trial so far, came during the testimony of Brian Band. He's the loyal Thibeault staffer who moved with him from the federal NDP to the Ontario Liberals whose paid job on the byelection campaign is the alleged bribe Thibeault received to run for the Liberals. At one point in the questioning, Crown prosecutor David Mckercher paused and asked him "Who is Brian Band?" Band answered: "I am. I am Brian Band." Apparently, McKercher meant to ask him "Who is Darrell Marsh?" referring to the other staffer who switched parties with Thibeault.
5. Andrew and Gerry say hello
At the start of a recess during Andrew Olivier's testimony, he came face to face in the small courtroom with Gerry Lougheed. The two exchanged pleasantries, asked how each other was and chatted about "closure" all under the watchful eye of reporters sitting nearby.
6. The commitments
An email Thibeault wrote to Sorbara on Dec. 11, 2014 is the "core evidence" in the allegation that she bribed Thibeault to join the Liberals, Crown Prosecutor Rick Visca told the court. The Crown and defence argued about what Thibeault had said about that email, with Judge Howard Borenstein eventually ruling that Thibeault testified to the Crown the "commitments" he mentions in that email included paid jobs for his friends, then said it "a bit differently" under cross-examination and then went back to his original characterization during re-examination by the crown.
7. The playing of the tapes
While thousands of Sudburians had listened to them in the three years since Olivier first released them online, the conversations he taped with Sorbara and Lougheed were finally played in court on the first day of the trial, plus a new third recording, which was also a chat between Olivier and Sorbara. Toronto reporters in the courtroom reacted like they hadn't heard the tapes before, while it was old news for the Sudbury press corps. At one point on the Lougheed-Olivier tape, Lougheed's phone rings and in the courtroom, the accused Sudbury businessman reached for his phone and laughed when he realized that call was from 2014.
8. Pointing to Pat
During his testimony, former Glenn Thibeault staffer Darrell Marsh was asked by Crown prosecutors "Who is Pat Sorbara?" And like in a vintage courtroom drama, he pointed across the courtroom and said "She's the lady sitting over there."
9. The "dysfunctional" "Liberal Family"
There were many moments when what the premier called the "Liberal Family" was shown to be what one witness called "dysfunctional" especially in Sudbury. Over 10 days of testimony, the court heard that Lougheed and former MPP Rick Bartolucci were feuding, that Bartolucci didn't get along with Premier Wynne, that Bartolucci didn't get along with Andrew Olivier, that Andrew Olivier didn't get along with Bartolucci or his supporters, and that almost no one in the Liberal party wanted former Greater Sudbury Mayor Marianne Matichuk to be the candidate. Court also heard that Thibeault got worried about how much he could trust Liberals when, while he was still making up his mind about joining their party, federal Liberal leader Justin Trudeau came up to him in Ottawa and said "Have a nice weekend and good luck with your decision."
10. Where's a good spot for breakfast in Sudbury?
Thibeault's defection to the Ontario Liberals began with a breakfast meeting with Gerry Lougheed at Tutti Frutti in Sudbury in November 2014. It was mentioned several times in court that day, to the point one Crown wondered if this was advertising for the restaurant. Thibeault then said he'd "get in trouble" with people at Gloria's restaurant, since he often has breakfast there. Outside court, Lougheed lawyer Michael Lacy quizzed Sudbury reporters about where they go for breakfast, saying he had grown fond of Gloria's during his visits to Sudbury.