Wynne Denies Man Offered "Specific" Job
To Withdraw From By-Election Race
By Susanna Kelley
A Sudbury man says Premier Kathleen Wynne asked him not to run as the Liberal party candidate in the upcoming Sudbury by-election because she preferred another candidate instead.
Andrew Olivier also says two Liberal party operatives - including the Premier's Deputy Chief of Staff - offered him a "job or appointment" if he abandoned his quest to be the Liberal candidate in the campaign, which has not been called yet.
The Premier would override the nomination process and appoint her favoured candidate if he did not voluntarily withdraw, Mr. Olivier says he was told.
Premier Wynne denies there was any specific job offered to Mr. Olivier, who was the Liberal party's candidate in the June election, losing by less than 1,000 votes.
"There was no specific promise ...offers of anything ... no specific commitments" the Premier told reporters following a speech to the Economic Club Monday.
As well, Pat Sorbara, her Deputy Chief of Staff, called the accusation "categorically false."
Ms. Sorbara released a statement saying "I reached out to Andrew Olivier last week and discussed ways he could remain involved. Any suggestion that anything was offered in exchange for any action is categorically false."
Ontario's Elections Act specifically prohibits even indirectly offering a job or office in return for refraining from becoming a candidate.
Under the heading "Bribery", Section 96.1 (e) of the Act says ""no person shall, directly or indirectly ... give, procure or 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 Progressive Conservatives are asking the OPP to investigate the claims by Mr. Olivier, a paraplegic, and the NDP has written to Ontario's Chief Elections Officer Greg Essensa to look into it as well.
In a Facebook post Monday, Mr. Olivier said he was asked three times not to run for the Liberal nomination this time around.
Both operatives - Ms. Wynne's Deputy Chief of Staff Pat Sorbara and Sudbury Liberal fundraiser Gerry Lougheed - spoke of a position if he did not run, said Mr. Olivier.
Mr. Olivier says Mr. Lougheed first contacted him "on behalf of the Premier."
"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 (sic). Perhaps a job or appointment," Mr. Olivier wrote.
Mr. Olivier says he replied that he already had a job and wanted to be the candidate.
Ms. Wynne was next to contact him, he said, saying she had a vision for Sudbury and asking him to withdraw from the race.
Finally, Ms. Sorbara contacted him, Mr. Olivier alleges.
"The head of the Ontario Liberal Party campaign, Pat Sorbara, called me and reiterated suggestions of a job or appointment" last Friday, Mr. Olivier wrote.
"I told Pat I had a job and that I wanted to seek the nomination to be Sudbury’s MPP."
At that point, says Mr. Olivier, he was told the Premier would appoint someone else if he did not withdraw. He did not reveal who that candidate would be.
Mr. Olivier has withdrawn from the nomination process but is still angry.
"I won't pretend to be happy about it and I won't endorse anyone," he wrote. He also says he is not finished with politics.
Mr. Lougheed did not respond to attempts to reach him for comment.