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Ottawa councillor Tim Tierney apologizes, corrupt practices charge withdrawn

A corrupt practices charge laid against Ottawa city councillor Tim Tierney last year was dropped on Wednesday.
A corrupt practices charge laid against Ottawa city councillor Tim Tierney last year was dropped on Wednesday. City of Ottawa

A corrupt practices charge against an Ottawa city councillor, laid in connection to his alleged attempt last year to get his only municipal election rival to drop out of the race, has been withdrawn.

Tim Tierney appeared in Ottawa court Wednesday afternoon, where the thrice-elected councillor for Beacon Hill-Cyrville said he was sorry for his “mistake” and voluntarily gave up two months of his salary, his lawyer confirmed.

“I apologize for my mistake, for which I accept full responsibility,” says the statement Tierney read out in court.

The Ontario Provincial Police’s anti-rackets branch charged Tierney on Nov. 23, 2018, after Michael Schurter — Tierney’s only opponent in the 2018 municipal election — filed a complaint with authorities.

READ MORE: Ottawa Coun. Tim Tierney charged with corrupt practices under municipal elections law

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That complaint was based on Tierney’s alleged conduct during a phone call on July 27, 2018 that occurred minutes before the deadline to sign up or drop out of the municipal election race, Schurter said last year.

OPP alleged Tierney offered to make a donation to a charity for Schurter so he would refrain from registering as a candidate, according to a statement the councillor issued on Nov. 23 in response to the charge.

Section 90(3) of the Municipal Elections Act forbids anyone from offering, giving, lending or promising “any valuable consideration in order to induce a person to become a candidate, refrain from becoming a candidate or withdraw his or her candidacy.”

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In his statement on Wednesday, Tierney described July 27, 2018 as “a difficult day.”

“It had always been my firm intention to make a personal donation to the Gloucester Food Cupboard had I been acclaimed,” the statement said. “In the hectic last minutes before the close of nominations, I raised the subject of a charitable donation in connection with the election.”

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In a statement sent to Global News about the outcome in Tierney’s case, Schurter said the court process “ensured that councillor Tierney took responsibility for his actions.”

“Today he admitted the truth, that his actions were wrong,” Schurter said via email. “Last election Tim ran on his reputation in the community and after today’s admission of wrongdoing he may not be able to do that again.”

READ MORE: Ottawa election results 2018

Tierney’s statement said he volunteered to forego his salary for two months “as a demonstration of good faith and of my commitment to the community of the City of Ottawa.”

The city later confirmed the transfer.

“Earlier this morning, Mr. Tim Tierney delivered a certified cheque to the city clerk in the amount of $10,567.52, being two months net salary of a councillor,” city clerk Rick O’Connor confirmed over email, through the media relations department.

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Tierney’s lawyer, Sean May, said his client is “thrilled” the charges have been withdrawn and “he’s looking forward to getting back to work.”

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Tierney was first elected to Ottawa city council in 2010. Even though the allegations against him broke during the 2018 municipal election campaign, he still beat Schurter handily, with more than 80 per cent of the vote.

Tierney chairs the Ottawa Public Library Board and serves as vice-chair of both the city’s powerful finance and economic development committee and the planning committee. The councillor also sits on the transit commission and the information technology sub-committee.

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