OTTAWA - The lawyer for Ottawa Mayor Larry O'Brien in an influence-peddling trial called his accuser "totally clueless" during a heated cross-examination Tuesday.

Lawyer Michael Edelson has spent the better part of two days questioning Terry Kilrea, who claims O'Brien offered him an inducement to quit Ottawa's 2006 municipal election.

Kilrea's memory, credibility and political motivations all came under sustained attack during several hours of withering inquiry that barely touched on the substance of his allegations.

O'Brien is facing trial in Ontario Superior Court after pleading not guilty to two counts of influence peddling.

Edelson spent all day Tuesday exploring Kilrea's checkered - and uniformly unsuccessful - electoral history in minute detail.

"That's maybe why you were totally clueless," the lawyer shot at Kilrea after one exchange about municipal campaign financing.

The implication of that particular exchange was that Kilrea was prepared to break election financing laws to further his political ambitions.

Edelson painted Kilrea as as "perpetually complaining" about his political opponents during campaigns to gain any advantage. Yet he noted Kilrea failed to raise the bribery allegation against O'Brien until weeks after the autumn 2006 municipal vote.

"I've never used the word bribe," Kilrea responded. "I didn't know there was anything illegal about the (O'Brien) offers."

That brought snorts of incredulity from O'Brien supporters seated behind the mayor in the courtroom.

Kilrea was also unsure of key dates in the summer of 2006 when he alleges O'Brien offered to arrange a federal appointment for him in return for his quitting the mayoral race.

Kilrea has acknowledged that the dates he gave in a sworn affidavit almost three years ago may have been "off by a week."

Edelson read into the court record repeated media interviews in which Kilrea asserted the accuracy of his affidavit.

In fact, much of Edelson's cross-examination consisted of entering into evidence media articles about Kilrea's municipal political platform and statements over the course of two mayoral campaigns in 2003 and 2006.

The grilling seldom addressed Kilrea's specific allegations against O'Brien, but instead served as a dissection of a local political gadfly who appeared to be in over his head.

Edelson repeatedly roasted Kilrea for the kind of routine, self-aggrandizing political rhetoric practised on a daily basis just a few blocks away on Parliament Hill.

At one point, Edelson raised a published claim by Kilrea that he'd received assurance on a municipal issue from Tory cabinet minister John Baird.

Forced to concede he hadn't actually spoken to Baird, Kilrea claimed his first-person newspaper account really referred to his campaign team, not him personally.

"You just lied under oath," Edelson snapped.

The case is being tried by judge alone, and the Crown seldom responded to the defence lawyer's courtroom theatrics.

The prosecution claims O'Brien offered Kilrea - a fellow right-wing mayoral candidate - a lucrative five-year appointment to the National Parole Board if he would drop out of the mayoral race.

The federal appointment allegedly was to be arranged through senior members of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservative government.

Kilrea did drop out of the race, but was never appointed to the parole board.

The burly sheriff's bailiff was forced repeatedly to say he couldn't remember specific events or conversations unrelated to his formal allegations against O'Brien.

"Do you have a memory of convenience, Mr. Kilrea?" Edelson asked late in a long day of grilling. "A spotty amnesia?"

Much of the Crown's case against O'Brien relies on Kilrea's testimony, backed by emails written by O'Brien himself, and the defence strategy is clear.

"In part, this whole trial is about your memory, right?" O'Brien's lawyer said at one point.