4 key things we've learned in the Sudbury byelection bribery trial
After 7 days of testimony, including by Premier Kathleen Wynne, the case is mostly laid out
The Crown is getting close to wrapping its case in the bribery trial of two Ontario Liberal officials.
Four witnesses are scheduled to testify on Monday. Then Energy Minister Glenn Thibeault, who has waived his parliamentary privilege, is due to enter the witness box on Tuesday. Crown lawyers have indicated he will be the last witness for the prosecution.
That makes this a good time to look at the most crucial bits of evidence presented so far.
Pat Sorbara, formerly Wynne's deputy chief of staff, and Gerry Lougheed Jr., a prominent Sudbury businessman and Liberal fundraiser, are charged with bribery under Ontario's Election Act. Both have pleaded not guilty.
They're accused of offering a job to induce Andrew Olivier to refrain from becoming a Liberal candidate in the 2015 Sudbury byelection.
Sorbara is also charged with a second count of bribery, accused of inducing the former NDP member of Parliament Glenn Thibeault to become the byelection candidate by arranging jobs for two men who worked in his Sudbury office.
The Election Act says it is an offence to "promise or agree to procure an office or employment to induce a person to become a candidate, refrain from becoming a candidate, or withdraw his or her candidacy."
The Crown has called 12 witnesses, including Premier Kathleen Wynne, presented the court with dozens of emails and text messages between key players, and has played recordings of conversations that Olivier had with Lougheed and Sorbara that form the crux of the case.
Here are four key things the court has heard:
1. Olivier was not in line to be the candidate
Olivier had failed to win Sudbury in the 2014 general election, a seat the Liberals had held for 19 years. When the prospect of a byelection arose barely five months later, with the surprise resignation of the New Democrat who'd beat Olivier, the Liberals were actively looking for someone else to contest the seat.
Wynne told the court Olivier "seemed like a nice young man" but "he wasn't a strong candidate." She told the court that once Thibeault told the Liberals he had decided to run, on Dec. 11, 2014, he was going to be the party's candidate, regardless of what Olivier did.
2. Olivier got no specific job offers
The recorded conversations in which Lougheed and Sorbara allegedly offered Olivier bribes happened after Thibeault had made up his mind to run. Although some job options were mentioned on both tapes, no specific job offer was made.
Under cross examination about his conversation with Sorbara, Olivier testified "We didn't get into details," and told the court he "wasn't sure" she was talking to him about a paid job.
3. Thibeault decided to become a candidate before his staff got jobs
The Crown alleges that Sorbara bribed Thibeault to run by agreeing to offer jobs to his staffers, Darrell Marsh and Brian Band.
Thibeault met with Wynne at her home in Toronto on Nov. 30, 2014 to discuss he possibility of leaving the federal NDP and running for the Ontario Liberals. He told her he had some thinking to do, and the evidence shows he made his decision official on Dec. 11.
Marsh and Band testified that while they knew Thibeault was considering some sort of change, they didn't actually know he had decided to run for the Liberals until Dec. 16, once he was forced to announce it after Olivier publicly accused the Liberals of pushing him aside.
4. The jobs for Thibeault's staff lasted a few weeks and paid little
Marsh testified he didn't really need the work. "I wasn't broke," he told the court. He was paid $2,000 for his work during the January 2015 campaign, which he invoiced as "professional consulting services."
Band testified he volunteered for the byelection campaign, then was told part way through that he'd be paid $2,800 for "professional consulting services."