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Opposition says Wynne crossed the line on OPP byelection probe

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne delivers a speech during a luncheon in Ottawa on Tuesday, January 20, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Matthew Usherwood

TORONTO – The opposition parties say Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne crossed the line with her comments about a police investigation into the Liberals’ actions in a Sudbury byelection.

Wynne has refused calls to have her deputy chief of staff, Pat Sorbara, step down while the OPP investigate allegations of corruption after a Liberal candidate was offered a job or appointment to step aside.

The premier has said she does not expect the police to lay charges against Sorbara, adding that if that happens, her deputy chief of staff will step aside.

NDP house leader Gilles Bisson says the premier has a responsibility to be very careful with her words.

Bisson says Wynne may be hoping the police hear her remarks and in the end don’t lay charges, which he insists “is pure interference.”

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Progressive Conservative house leader Steve Clark says Wynne “crossed the line” and should “stop interfering” in the police investigation.

“I think the premier needs to let the investigators do their work,” said Clark. “She needs to stop interfering, stop making editorial comments, and let the investigations go through their due course.”

Former Liberal candidate Andrew Olivier released recordings of conversations he had with Sorbara and Sudbury Liberal Gerry Lougheed to support his claim he was offered a job or appointment to step aside.

Wynne maintains the Liberals were simply trying to keep a former candidate active in the party and that no specific offers were made to Olivier.

The opposition parties want Wynne to fire Sorbara and have Lougheed removed as chair of the Sudbury police services board until the police investigation is completed.

The OPP are investigating whether the alleged offer to Olivier contravened the corruption section of the Criminal Code and also whether the bribery section of the province’s Election Act was violated.

Elections Ontario came to the “unprecedented” conclusion Sorbara and Lougheed’s actions constituted an “apparent contravention” of the act, but it has no mandate to conduct prosecutions. The report was turned over to the OPP for follow up.