2016—2017 · V. 44 No. 3



Queen's Park notes

Queen's Park

Two provincial liberals charged with Elections Act offences

Almost two years after the Sudbury byelection that saw former Federal NDP MP Glenn Thibeault win a seat in the Ontario Legislature as a Liberal, Ontario Provincial Police laid Elections Act charges against two prominent Ontario Liberals.

Former Deputy Chief of Staff to the Premier and Chief Executive Officer of the Ontario Liberal Party, Patricia Sorbara, face two charges relating to bribery. Those charges stem from an attempt to convince former 2014 general election Liberal candidate, Andrew Olivier, to withdraw from seeking the Liberal nomination for the byelection. After the charges were announced, Sorbara resigned her position as CEO of the Ontario Liberal Party.

Facing one charge of violating the Elections Act is prominent Sudbury Liberal fundraiser and organizer Gerry Lougheed.

The stunning charges against Sorbara and

These charges could lead to fines of up to $25,000 and a maximum jail time of two years less a day.

Lougheed left Premier Kathleen Wynne and her caucus reeling from opposition attacks in Question Period. Both the Progressive Conservative and the New Democratic Party seized on the charges to expand their narrative that the Liberals are a tired, corrupt government that needs to be replaced at the next election. As well, the opposition parties are demanding that Thibeault, who was recently appointed Minister of Energy, resign from Cabinet. The opposition parties allege that Thibeault was promised a Cabinet position to entice him to leave federal politics and run for the provincial Liberals.

The OPP was initially considering laying criminal charges in this case, but has since decided to seek provincial offences charges under the Elections Act. These charges could lead to fines of up to $25,000 and a maximum jail time of two years less a day.

Sorbara and Lougheed will make their first appearance in court on November 21. It is unclear how long the proceedings will take. Whatever the result, the charges and ensuing court case will continue to remind voters of Ontario Liberal Party indiscretions leading up to the June 7, 2018 general election.

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