Wynne denies offering Andrew Olivier an appointment to step aside
Reported appointee unnamed, and Olivier says news is not his to give
The former Ontario Liberal candidate for Sudbury, Andrew Olivier, has had his hopes to run in the next provincial election dashed by his own party.
"On Friday, the head of the Ontario Liberal Party campaign, Pat Sorbara, called me and reiterated suggestions of a job or appointment. I told Pat I had a job and that I wanted to seek the nomination to be Sudbury’s MPP," Olivier said in his statement to the media.
"At that point, I was informed that if I sought the nomination, the Premier was prepared to bypass the nomination process, and appoint their chosen candidate. In other words, the Ontario Liberal Party in Toronto has told me I will not be its candidate and it was out of Sudbury’s hands."
'No specific offers of anything'
But Premier Kathleen Wynne denies she or any members of Ontario's governing Liberal party offered an appointment to get their Sudbury candidate in last June's election to step aside for an upcoming byelection.
Wynne said she reached out to Olivier to let him know the Liberals had another candidate in mind and to ask if there was some way to keep him involved with the party.
"There were no specific offers of anything" to Olivier, Wynne said, adding the Liberals were just trying to pay him respect by giving him a heads-up about their plans with another candidate.
Wynne, who has until next May to call the byelection, did not say who the Liberals want to have as their candidate in Sudbury. There has been widespread speculation that former Sudbury Mayor Marianne Matichuk might be waiting in the wings, however Matichuk told the CBC today she's not the candidate.
At a news conference in Sudbury this morning, Olivier told supporters he didn't believe he was being pushed aside by the Liberals because he is a quadriplegic.
Olivier noted Sudbury Liberal Riding Association president, Bill Nurmi, supported an open nomination.
"At least, Mr. Nurmi was democratic about it. This is not a Sudbury decision. This is clearly what Toronto thinks is best for Sudbury."
In this past fall's provincial election, Olivier missed the Sudbury MPP job by less than 1,000 votes. The position was won by now-resigned NDP Joe Cimino, who stepped aside in November for personal reasons.
The following is Andrew Olivier's official statement, as posted on his Facebook page:
To all of my friends, family and supporters, here is the statement I just read to the media. I want to thank all of you for your love and support. Don't worry. I've been through worse and I will be back.
Thank you, everyone, for coming here on such short notice. Merci a vous pour venir a cette announcement ce matin
Despite rumours and speculation, I will NOT be announcing my hockey comeback today or try to sell anyone mortgages.
As many of you know, I have announced my intentions to seek the Ontario Liberal nomination for the upcoming Sudbury by-election.
We can all agree that these are extraordinary circumstances to have a second shot, just 6 months and 980 votes ago. This hasn’t happened in Sudbury for a very long time. I do want to wish Mr. Cimino good health and the best in life.
For the past three weeks, my team has been working hard, preparing for an open nomination here in Sudbury….to finish what we started and become Sudbury’s next MPP.
Last Thursday, I was asked to meet with Gerry Lougheed, who was contacting me on behalf of the Premier. As many already know, Gerry is something of a Liberal kingmaker and chief fundraiser for the Liberal Party in Sudbury…so I was optimistic and flattered about being asked to meet him.
At the meeting, he told me they had someone else in mind for the candidate and they wanted that person acclaimed without being challenged and asked me to support their choice of candidate. I will not be identifying that person because it is not my information to share. He mentioned that if I stepped aside and endorsed this other person, that I should that I request to see what was in it for me. Perhaps a job or appointment. I informed Gerry that I have a job---we were sitting in my office--- and that I would be seeking the nomination
Shortly after, Premier Kathleen Wynne contacted me by phone and also told me she wanted someone else as the candidate. She has a vision for Sudbury but her vision did not include me as this candidate. And I respected her vision but didn’t agree with it.
And, finally, on Friday, the head of the Ontario Liberal Party campaign, Pat Sorbara, called me and reiterated suggestions of a job or appointment. I told Pat I had a job and that I wanted to seek the nomination to be Sudbury’s MPP.
At that point, I was informed that if I sought the nomination, the Premier was prepared to bypass the nomination process, and appoint their chosen candidate.
In other words, the Ontario Liberal Party in Toronto has told me I will not be its candidate and it was out of Sudbury’s hands.
I have to be clear in saying the President of the Sudbury Liberal Riding Association, Bill Nurmi, supported an open nomination. At least, Mr. Nurmi was democratic about it. This is not a Sudbury decision. This is clearly what Toronto thinks is best for Sudbury.
So, I took the weekend to consider all of the information I received. I met with some friends and family and even went to church looking for some inspiration.
And, I came up with this…why we are all here today. Openness and transparency. Sometimes sunlight is the best disinfectant. And I need to shine a light for everyone.
I will not be seeking the Liberal nomination for Sudbury because I have been told that they want someone else. This is not my choice. It is theirs. I wanted to work with everyone and cooperate. I made that very clear.
So, I will step aside as they want. However, I won’t pretend to be happy about it and I won’t endorse anyone
And, quite frankly, even if they changed their mind at this point for any reason, I would not change my mind. I want to represent Sudbury but not with people making the wrong decisions.
Anyone who has a disability knows a major challenge is maintaining your self-respect and dignity, which is not easy when you depend on so many people. I have worked hard over 20 years since my injury to maintain a strong sense of dignity. That won’t change now.
My message is clear. I will not be bullied or bought. I was raised better than that -- and Sudburians are better than that. We are not pushovers here and that’s a message I want all of Ontario to understand if they didn’t know already.
Instead, my decision is to let people know I will not endorse in something that I do not agree with. And definitely not for personal gain. I want to serve Sudbury. That’s it!
The people who have supported me not just in the last election but the past 20 years deserve that from me. They deserve transparency and strength.
I give you my word today that I will seek office again in the future because I want nothing more than to represent and serve Sudbury as MPP.
All of you in the media have been very fair to me and the public has been fantastic. So, I give you my word that I’m here for Sudbury and I’m not going anywhere.
Thank you so very much to all who have supported me and I hope to have your help and continued support in the future.
with files from The Canadian Press