OTTAWA – The trial of Ottawa Mayor Larry O’Brien on influence-peddling charges has heard that Tory cabinet minister John Baird gave conflicting statements to police.
Baird is among several federal Conservatives close to Prime Minister Stephen Harper who have been dragged into the criminal proceedings.
Baird’s office issued a highly unusual denial last week after O’Brien’s defence lawyer claimed in court that the Transport minister would contradict Terry Kilrea – the Crown’s chief witness.
Kilrea alleges that O’Brien offered to arrange a parole board appointment with the Tories as a bribe to quit Ottawa’s 2006 mayoral race.
Both Baird and Kilrea deny they ever discussed the appointment in person.
But Baird’s first statement to police in May 2007 suggests otherwise.
Parts of his two police statements were read into the court record Tuesday as the Crown raised objections to the way O’Brien’s lawyer had characterized as-yet-unheard evidence.
The first of two Baird police statements says Kilrea initially either emailed or called the minister about the parole board appointment, and they then met at Baird’s office.
“We had some sort of communication, then he came to see me and we had a bit more of a substantive discussion about it,” Baird told police.
In a subsequent police interview in October 2007, Baird first said he could not “recall at all” having spoken in person to Kilrea about the appointment, then later in the same interview flatly denied having any such conversation.
Baird will be called to testify at the trial as early as this week.