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Lawyers call for acquittals mid-trial in Ontario Liberal bribery case

Pat Sorbara arrives for a Election Act bribery trial in Sudbury, Ontario, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Sorbara, who was at the time the Ontario Liberal Party CEO, faces two charges and Gerry Lougheed, a local Liberal fundraiser, faces one charge.
Pat Sorbara arrives for a Election Act bribery trial in Sudbury, Ontario, Thursday, Sept. 7, 2017. Sorbara, who was at the time the Ontario Liberal Party CEO, faces two charges and Gerry Lougheed, a local Liberal fundraiser, faces one charge. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

SUDBURY, Ont. – Lawyers representing two Ontario Liberals charged with Election Act bribery offences argue the prosecution has failed to prove its case and their clients should be acquitted mid-trial.

The lawyers have filed written arguments for the directed verdict application that’s set to be heard Oct. 10 in Sudbury, before the defence has even called any witnesses.

ANALYSIS: Sudbury byelection trial and the unravelling of the promise of Kathleen Wynne

The two Liberals on trial are accused of offering would-be candidate Andrew Olivier a job or appointment to step aside for Premier Kathleen Wynne‘s preferred candidate.

Pat Sorbara, who was Wynne’s deputy chief of staff and Liberal campaign director, and local Liberal fundraiser Gerry Lougheed have pleaded not guilty.

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The lawyers argue that what is at issue in this case is the internal Liberal party process, which is not governed by the Election Act.

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They say that by the time Sorbara and Lougheed spoke to Olivier, Wynne had already decided she would appoint Glenn Thibeault as the candidate, so there would be no contested nomination process, and therefore nothing to dissuade Olivier from participating in.

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