02/06/2015 01:57 EST | Updated 04/08/2015 05:59 EDT

Sudbury Byelection 2015: Ontario Liberals Traded Integrity For Win

TORONTO - Premier Kathleen Wynne is rejecting demands from the opposition parties that her deputy chief of staff step aside while police investigate allegations of corruption in Thursday's northern Ontario byelection.

Andrew Olivier, who ran for the Liberals in last year's general election, said he was offered a government job or appointment to step aside as the party's candidate in Sudbury.

Anyone who has heard the audio tapes Olivier released of his conversations with Wynne's deputy chief of staff Pat Sorbara and another Liberal from Sudbury would conclude that a job offer was made, said Progressive Conservative Michael Harris.

"It's quite clear that they were trading away their integrity for their own political gain," Harris said. "I'm hopeful that we'll get to the bottom of this and Ontarians will truly see who these Liberals really are."

Media reports said the Ontario Provincial Police believe two Ontario Liberals broke the law by offering a job to an individual in return for having him not run as a candidate in the byelection.

The Globe and Mail reported the allegations are contained in an OPP document sworn before a judge to get a production order for evidence.

Det.-Const. Erin Thomas is quoted in the document as saying she "has reasonable grounds to believe and does believe" that the job offer to Olivier violates the Criminal Code. Police cite section 125 (b), part of the code's anti-corruption section, which prohibits "negotiating appointments."

The police allegations have not been tested in court, and no charges have been laid.

The New Democrats said "the Liberals will do anything to save their own political skin even if it means breaking the law," and said they too want Sorbara out of the premier's office until the police probe is completed.

"When you look at the precedent for situations when there is a criminal investigation, people do step aside until after the investigations are complete so as to ensure that the integrity of the government is upheld," said NDP Leader Andrea Horwath. "So I call on Kathleen Wynne to make that call."

But a spokeswoman for Wynne said the premier will not be asking Sorbara to leave her post.

"Our views on this matter are well known and any suggestion that anything was offered in exchange for any action is false," Wynne's spokeswoman, Zita Astravas, said Friday in an email.

"It is common for an investigator to make an allegation in an ITO in order to obtain a warrant," she said. "It is in no way confirmation that an offence has occurred."

Wynne has always maintained no specific offer was made to Olivier as the Liberals tried to keep him active in the party after asking him to step aside so former New Democrat MP Glen Thibeault could be their byelection candidate.

Thibeault won Thursday's byelection for the Liberals, taking back the Sudbury riding the New Democrats captured in last June's general election. Olivier finished a distant third behind New Democrat candidate Suzanne Shawbonquit.

The byelection was called when rookie NDP MPP Joe Cimino resigned in November after just five months on the job, citing family reasons.

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