09/20/2017 11:22 EDT | Updated 09/22/2017 03:06 EDT

Defence asks for Ontario Liberal bribery charges to be dismissed

SUDBURY, Ont. — Lawyers representing two Ontario Liberals charged with Election Act bribery offences will argue next month that the Crown hasn't proven its case and the matter should be thrown out.

The charges stem from a 2015 byelection in Sudbury, Ont., in which Glenn Thibeault left his job as the riding's NDP MP and successfully ran for the provincial Liberals.

The two Liberals on trial are accused of offering a would-be candidate a job or appointment to step aside for Thibeault, who was Wynne's preferred candidate. Pat Sorbara, who was Premier Kathleen Wynne's deputy chief of staff and Liberal campaign director, and local Liberal fundraiser Gerry Lougheed have pleaded not guilty.

Thibeault was the Crown's last witness at the trial, and the defence lawyers said Wednesday that they'll ask for a directed verdict, which means the judge would decide the case before hearing any defence evidence.

They will essentially argue that the Crown's case isn't strong enough, though if they lose the directed verdict motion, the defence will still plan to call evidence.

Arguments are set for Oct. 10.

Sorbara also faces a second charge, alleging that she bribed Thibeault to become the candidate by arranging for paid jobs on the byelection campaign for two of his constituency staff.

Thibeault testified Tuesday that he and Sorbara discussed income replacement and paid staff jobs before he was an official candidate, but that no commitments were made.

Thibeault testified that he did receive income replacement of $3,500 — he was worried about making mortgage and car payments after leaving his NDP job — and that he asked about paid byelection campaign jobs for two constituency office staffers.

Sorbara said it was doable and had been done in the past, Thibeault testified. 

However, the income replacement and paid staffer jobs didn't come until January 2015, Thibeault testified, which was weeks after he was already appointed as the candidate.

The Crown alleges that the staffer jobs, income replacement and having the full support of the Ontario Liberals were Thibeault's three conditions in order to run for the Liberals. (CJMX)