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Byelection bribery trial: Grits wanted to keep Olivier in ‘Liberal family,’ Wynne says

Premier says she understood not being the candidate was ‘a difficult moment’ for Andrew Olivier

Testifying at the Sudbury byelection bribery trial, Premier Kathleen Wynne said this morning that the Ontario Liberals wanted to keep spurned candidate Andrew Olivier in the fold, even if they didn’t want him as a candidate in the 2015 byelection.

On trial are Gerry Lougheed Jr., a Liberal Party fundraiser, and Pat Sorbara, the former chair of the Grits' election campaign. They're accused of offering incentives to former candidate Andrew Olivier not to run in the byelection, and instead support Thibeault. Sorbara is also accused of offering separate inducements to Thibeault.

Crown attorney Vern Brewer spent the morning leading the premier through the series of events leading up the decision to go with federal NDP defector Glenn Thibeault as the Liberal candidate in the 2015 Sudbury byelection, and the resulting fallout from that decision.

Olivier was a candidate in the 2014 election that saw former city councillor Joe Cimino, running for the NDP, wrest the Sudbury riding away from the Liberals for the first time in nearly two decades. 

The Liberals won a majority government in that election. When she learned Olivier had lost the Sudbury riding, it took some of the bloom off the rose for him as a candidate, as far as Wynne was concerned, she testified.

However, the party still felt Olivier could play a role. 

“He hadn’t been a great candidate in the general election,” Wynne testified of Olivier. “(But) we wanted to keep him involved.”

And after disappointing him by going with Thibeault as the byelection candidate, she felt the “decent thing to do” was to keep him in the Liberal fold.

“It was a difficult moment for him because we had decided Glenn Thibeault” was the guy for them, Wynne said.

The Crown wrapped up its questions around noon. Defence counsel Michael Lacy has now begun questioning the premier.


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