National Newswatch

SUDBURY, Ont. - Premier Kathleen Wynne continues to be dogged by questions about her handling of the appointment of a Liberal candidate in a byelection in Sudbury.

The provincial Conservatives have called for Ontario Provincial Police to re-open an investigation into how former New Democrat MP Glenn Thibeault was picked for the Feb. 5 byelection.

The Liberal who ran in the riding in last June's general election, Andrew Olivier, has claimed the Liberals offered him a job or appointment in exchange for stepping aside.

The provincial Tories have suggested that making such an offer could violate sections of the Criminal Code that relate to offering government advantages and securing appointments, but provincial police determined no criminal offence was committed.

On Thursday, Olivier posted audio recordings to YouTube of conversations with two Liberals that he says back up his claims.

Wynne campaigned with Thibeault on Saturday and had little further to say about the Conservatives' call that police take another look at the matter in light of the audio recordings.

"We have to let the authorities do what they choose to do," Wynne told reporters. "We have said repeatedly, and now the tapes have confirmed, that we were working to see if we could keep this young man involved in the team.

"There had already been a decision made that Glenn Thibeault was going to be our candidate, and so now we're just going to work very hard to get him elected."

Olivier, who is a quadriplegic and records conversations in lieu of taking notes, did not respond to an email asking if he had taped a conversation he says he had with Wynne.

In one of the recordings Olivier posted to YouTube, a man he identified as Gerry Lougheed, a Liberal and chair of Sudbury's police services board, said he was there on behalf of the premier to ask if he would consider stepping aside and nominating Thibeault.

Lougheed is neither a government nor Liberal staff member and speaks for himself, the premier's office said in a statement released last week.

Lougheed did not return messages seeking comment, but in a statement he said that he does not have the authority to offer jobs and "at no time" did he promise Olivier a job or appointment if he stepped aside.

Elections Ontario is also looking into the case.

Olivier is now running in the byelection as an Independent.

The Sudbury seat was vacated in November by New Democrat Joe Cimino, who resigned after just five months after the election.

Thibeault abruptly resigned as a federal MP last year and announced he was running for the provincial Liberals.


The Canadian Press
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