Accused of offering Kilrea incentive to leave election race


 

 

DAVID GONCZOL/for Metro Ottawa

 

Mayor Larry O’Brien listens during a presentation at city council yesterday. The mayor kept a busy regular schedule yesterday after learning that Ontario Provincial Police had charged him in connection with a bribery probe.





"The challenges facing the city are too great to walk away from my responsibility. ... I am ready, willing and able to continue to work hard on (citizens’) behalf and do the job I was elected to do."






An eight-month probe into allegations that Ottawa Mayor Larry O’Brien tried to bribe an opponent to drop out of the 2006 mayoral race resulted in criminal charges being laid yesterday.





Ontario Provincial Police’s anti-racket section formally charged O’Brien with two counts under the Criminal Code, in connection to allegations that he offered opponent Terry Kilrea his assistance in obtaining a federal government appointment if Kilrea left the race.





O’Brien denied the allegations and said he expects fair-minded people to presume him innocent until proven guilty.





“Quite frankly, I believe with every fibre of my being that I am innocent,” the mayor said.





O’Brien faces Criminal Code charges for “pretending to have influence with the government or a minister, contrary to Section 121(1)(d)(ii),” and for “negotiating an appointment contrary to Section 125(b).”





During the investigation, OPP obtained a warrant to seize e-mail correspondence between O’Brien, Kilrea and John Baird, Conservative MP for Ottawa West-Nepean, who is responsible for federal appointments for eastern Ontario.





O’Brien stated his intention to remain in office during court proceedings. “The challenges facing the city are too great to walk away from my responsibility,” he said. “I am ready, willing and able to continue to work hard on (citizens’) behalf and do the job I was elected to do.”





O’Brien is due to appear in court Jan. 9. His lawyer Vince Clifford said the case could take more than a year to decide.





Baird, who is at the Bali climate change summit, told CBC there never was any appointment offered to Kilrea.





His office later issued the following statement: “Nobody ever discussed an appointment for Terry Kilrea with Minister Baird. An appointment was never considered. An appointment was never put forward. An appointment was never made.”





Kilrea declined comment yesterday when contacted by Metro, except to say if called as a witness he would “do my civic duty.”