Wynne adviser to step down after OPP charges related to Sudbury byelection
Premier Kathleen Wynne’s top political adviser has stepped aside as head of the Ontario Liberals’ re-election campaign after being charged for alleged bribery during a 2015 byelection.
Patricia Sorbara, CEO and director of the 2018 Liberal campaign, and Grit activist Gerry Lougheed face Elections Act charges related to the Sudbury contest.
“In 2015, I said that if any charges were laid as a result of the investigation, then Patricia Sorbara would, of course, step aside and this will happen if charges are laid,” a stone-faced Wynne told reporters Tuesday.
Her comments came after the Star disclosed both Sorbara and Lougheed would be charged Tuesday by the Ontario Provincial Police and before those charges were official.
Sorbara, 60, was charged with two counts of bribery, while Lougheed, 62, was charged with one count of bribery.
“This has been a complex and unprecedented investigation for the OPP anti-rackets branch, which has culminated in bribery charges under the Election Act of Ontario,” OPP Commissioner Vince Hawkes said in a statement.
The OPP, which said it “will not comment further in order to protect the integrity of the investigation and the ongoing court processes,” issued the 2 p.m. release 15 hours after the Star broke the news.
Police swore the information before a justice of the peace on Monday on the eve of formally announcing the charges. Their first court date is set for Nov. 21 in Sudbury.
The stunning development, coming against the backdrop of Nov. 17 byelection campaigns underway in Niagara West-Glanbrook and Ottawa-Vanier, followed almost two years of police investigation.
More serious criminal charges of bribery were stayed against Lougheed last April, while officers continued their probe into the lesser Elections Act offences.
Sorbara, who was Wynne’s deputy chief of staff until moving to the Liberal campaign last month, was never criminally charged.(Source: Hamilton Spectator)