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Ontario premier’s top aide made alleged offer to energy minister

Liberal Glenn Thibeault celebrates his byelection win in Sudbury, Ontario on Thursday Feb. 5, 2014.
Liberal Glenn Thibeault celebrates his byelection win in Sudbury, Ontario on Thursday Feb. 5, 2014. Thomas Duncan / The Canadian Press

TORONTO – A former senior staffer for Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne offered a federal MP – who is now Ontario’s energy minister – an inducement to run for the provincial Liberals, police allege.

Pat Sorbara, Wynne’s former deputy chief of staff, was charged Tuesday with two bribery counts under the provincial Election Act, while Liberal operative Gerry Lougheed faces one count.

Court documents show that one of Sorbara’s charges relates to Glenn Thibeault.

READ MORE: Liberal fundraiser, trusted Wynne adviser charged with bribery in Sudbury byelection scandal

Thibeault was a New Democrat MP for Sudbury, Ont., before he ran for the Ontario Liberals in a byelection in that riding in February 2015.

He said Wednesday that the premier did not offer him a cabinet position in exchange for running, nor did Sorbara make him any offers.

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“I had many conversations with Pat during that time,” he said.

READ MORE: Crown drops charges against Gerry Lougheed in Sudbury byelection scandal

“Those conversations were: ‘Are you still considering doing this? What do you need to know from us about running for our party?’ We talked a lot about policy, we talked a lot about the byelection, if that’s going to happen, when it’s going to happen and building a team, but in terms of offers being made, this was a choice that I made to do this.”

Thibeault’s lawyer said in a statement that no inducement was made or accepted so that he would run for the Ontario Liberals.

The other charges in the case stem from allegations Sorbara and Lougheed offered Andrew Olivier, a previous Sudbury Liberal candidate who intended to run for them again in the byelection, a job or appointment to get him to step aside for Thibeault.

READ MORE: Police question Premier Wynne about Liberals’ actions in Sudbury byelection

Wynne has said that discussions with Olivier were about trying to keep him in the party fold, and that there was no quid pro quo because she had already decided to appoint Thibeault as the candidate before she, Sorbara and Lougheed spoke with Olivier.

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Sorbara recently took a leave of absence from her job as Wynne’s deputy chief of staff to become the Ontario Liberals’ CEO and 2018 campaign director, posts she resigned from on Tuesday.

She says she believes the charges against her will not succeed.

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