After Jazzfest, Bluesfest and the rest, Wednesday was the final day of Larrystock, this summer’s premier political and legal extravaganza, at the Ottawa courthouse.
Amid the festive TV satellite trucks, CFRA’s event kiosk and the paramedics’ ambulance, hoards of reporters, bloggers and spectators converged on Elgin Street for the verdict in Mayor Larry O’Brien’s trial. Only the beer tent and T-shirt booths were missing.
Inside the courthouse, one gushing fan recognized the Sun’s City Hall columnist Susan Sherring, and positively identified the Citizen’s Randall Denley on a second try. She had brought a book for him to autograph.
The actual proceedings were less than edge-of-the-seat drama as Justice Douglas Cunningham read through his reasons for an hour and change. Given the schools of evidentiary red herrings hatched at trial, he did well to keep it so concise.
The mayor, who characterized the dismissal of charges as a “complete vindication,” will probably look to someone other than Justice Cunningham for glowing endorsements in any re-election campaign. Of O’Brien’s initial meeting with Terry Kilrea and alleged offer of a gig on the National Parole Board, Cunningham concluded, “While I cannot be sure I believe Mr. O’Brien, I am unable to conclude I disbelieve him.”
And if it had been odd to hear the mayor’s sometimes earthy language in his videotaped interview with police, it was doubly jarring to hear it quoted from the bench. We weren’t necessarily proud of it, but some in the gallery snickered to hear Justice Cunningham assert his belief that Larry had laid some “bullsh-t” on Kilrea, or compared sizes of “swinging d–ks” with his mayoral rival.
I, know, I know: Grow up! But I stand by my juvenile tittering.
Back outside the courthouse, it was time for the closing ceremony of Larrystock, the scrum, a mob of media and assorted others. Supporters applauded and one yelled, “We love you Larry.”
O’Brien emerged into the crush, made a prepared statement and then grew suddenly deaf to all questions as he fled, pursued by the many-footed, many-microphoned beast, which nearly collided with a woman on a Rascal-style scooter. It didn’t let up until the mayor’s chauffeured car peeled away.
And then the show was over.
A woman passing by Elgin Street saw the ongoing media melee in front of the courthouse and asked me the verdict. When I told her, she cursed, though less colourfully than O’Brien might, and continued on her way.