02/12/2015 10:54 EST | Updated 04/14/2015 05:59 EDT

Sudbury Corruption Probe: NDP Calls For Gerry Lougheed To Be Removed From Police Board


TORONTO - Ontario's opposition parties are calling on the community safety minister to step in to remove a Liberal organizer from Sudbury's police services board while he is under criminal investigation.

Liberal organizer Gerry Lougheed is one of two Liberal officials the provincial police are investigating in a corruption probe.

The Liberals' candidate in Sudbury in the June general election alleges Lougheed and Premier Kathleen Wynne's deputy chief of staff offered him a job or appointment in exchange for stepping aside for last week's byelection.

Both the Ontario Provincial Police and Elections Ontario are investigating to see if the alleged actions violate the Criminal Code or the Election Act, respectively.

The Sudbury Police Services Board voted Wednesday not to remove Lougheed as the head of the board, saying it does not believe the subject matter intersects with his duties as chair of the board. No member of the board, including Lougheed, would comment Thursday.

Community Safety Minister Yasir Naqvi should step in, said NDP house leader Gilles Bisson.

"As minister responsible for oversight of the police services board, it's imperative that you maintain the integrity of all police services boards," Bisson wrote in a letter to Naqvi.

"There is ample precedent when someone is under criminal investigation to step aside from their duties until the investigation is complete. It’s unprecedented that the chair of a police services board, who is on the public payroll, under criminal investigation, remains as the head of the police services board."

Tory critic Rick Nicholls asked Naqvi last month to suspend Lougheed's police services board appointment. Progressive Conservative house leader Steve Clark wrote to the conflict of interest commissioner Thursday, asking him to investigate whether Lougheed broke the Public Service of Ontario Act by engaging in political activity that could interfere with his duties.

In a statement to local media in December, Lougheed said that he does not have the authority to offer jobs and "at no time" did he promise a job or appointment if Andrew Olivier stepped aside.

Wynne appointed former NDP MP Glenn Thibeault as the Liberal candidate for the byelection, which he won.

The premier and deputy chief of staff Pat Sorbara will meet with police investigators and have already met with Elections Ontario.

Olivier is quadriplegic and records many conversations because he can't take notes, so he has put the audio of his talks with Lougheed and Sorbara online, saying they back up his claims. The police went to court to get the original recordings, writing in a document to obtain the production order that there are grounds to believe an offence was committed.

The opposition parties have also called on the premier to ask Sorbara to step aside during the investigation, but Wynne's office has said they will not be asking the deputy chief of staff to leave her post. Wynne has maintained no specific offer was made to Olivier, saying they were trying to keep him active in the party after Thibeault's appointment was already decided.