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Kathleen Wynne gets rough welcome on return to Queen's Park

In her first day back at Queen's Park, Premier Kathleen Wynne was met with a hostile Opposition in the Legislature and an equally hostile one outside it.

Sudbury byelection probe takes spotlight as Legislature resumes

A union protest brought a representation of the premier's head to the lawn of Queen's Park for the return of the Legislature. (Katherine Brulotte/CBC)

In her first day back at Queen's Park, Premier Kathleen Wynne was met with a hostile Opposition in the Legislature and an equally hostile demonstration outside it.

The Legislature resumed after the Liberals won a controversial byelection in Sudbury earlier this month. The party swapped its previous Liberal candidate to former federal NDP MP Glenn Thibeault before the election.

The opposition Progressive Conservatives welcomed the new MPP in question period, but then followed that with accusations of foul play — saying Wynne's deputy chief of staff "bribed" the former Liberal candidate. The comment was formally withdrawn.

The Ontario NDP did not even welcome the new MPP from Sudbury.

Resign?

Wynne says she won't ask her deputy chief of staff to step aside while the Ontario Provincial Police investigate Pat Sorbara's role in the Sudbury byelection.

Wynne says Sorbara's role as the Liberal campaign director is separate from her duties in the premier's office, so there's no need for her to resign during the police investigation.

It's the first time Wynne has commented since police filed a court document in which they say there are grounds to believe an offence was committed.

Andrew Olivier alleges the Liberals offered him a job or appointment to step aside as their candidate to make way for Thibeault.

Wynne maintains no specific offer was made to Olivier, and insists all the Liberals were trying to do was keep a "failed candidate" active in the party.

She also says the people of Sudbury had all the facts about the OPP investigation when they went to the polls, and still elected a Liberal.

The opposition parties are waiting to pounce on the OPP investigation into the Liberal's behaviour in the byelection as the legislature resumes today for the first time since its Christmas break.

Union members 'greet' premier

Busloads of Ontario Public Service Employees Union members arrived at Queen's Park to greet Wynne as Legislature resumed. They carried placards and homemade signs, and a large effigy of Wynne's head.

Warren 'Smokey' Thomas, the president of the union representing 35,000 members, said the Liberal premier was worse than any "right-winger" that previously held the office.

"We didn’t pick this fight, but we will damn well finish this fight,” said Thomas to cheering crowds.

The unions are demonstrating after around 90 per cent of members voted in favour of a strike mandate in November. The Wynne government is promising to balance the budget by 2018, which has public sector employees concerned about contracts.

With files from the Canadian Press

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