Mayor won't ask Tierney to step down to face bribery charge

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson says Coun. Tim Tierney should remain in office while he fights an accusation he bribed another candidate to withdraw from the recent municipal election.

Recently re-elected councillor charged under Municipal Elections Act

Beacon Hill-Cyrville candidate Michael Schurter, left, and Coun. Tim Tierney, right, faced off in a recorded debate for Rogers Television on Sept. 21, 2018. (Kate Porter/CBC)

Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson says Coun. Tim Tierney should remain in office while he fights an accusation he bribed another candidate to withdraw from the recent municipal election.

Tierney, the city councillor for Beacon Hill-Cyrville, was charged Friday with corrupt practices under the Municipal Elections Act 

"There should be no reason why he should step down because he's duly elected, overwhelmingly, by his constituents," Watson told reporters Wednesday after the final city council meeting of the 2014-2018 term.

"Everyone in this society, whether you're a politician or a journalist or anyone in between, you should be assumed to be innocent until proven guilty."

Watson wouldn't comment specifically on the charge against Tierney. 

"I know it's a very stressful time for Tim and his family, and we wish him very well and I'm going to let the court process take its course," Watson said.

Tierney has said he takes the charge seriously and will continue to work for the residents of his ward.

Ottawa mayor Jim Watson says there's no need for Coun. Tim Tierney to step down after being charged with corrupt practices under municipal election laws. Tierney is accused of trying to induce an opposing candidate to drop out of the recent municipal election race. 0:30

Alleged offer to rival

Last Friday, Ontario Provincial Police charged the councillor under section 90 (3) of the Municipal Elections Act, which states it's an offence to offer or promise "any valuable consideration" to induce a candidate to withdraw his candidacy in an election. 

Tierney is alleged to have offered to make a multi-thousand-dollar donation to a local food bank if Michael Schurter — his sole competitor in the ward race — didn't run.

If found guilty, Tierney would be forced to vacate his position on council and barred from running in the next two elections. But there are no rules to force him to step away from his position as councillor during the proceedings against him.

To avoid any appearance of conflict of interest, Tierney had voluntarily stepped away from his position on the Ottawa Police Services Board when the investigation commenced.