Won’t step down while facing criminal charges over alleged bribe
Mayor Larry O’Brien intends to remain in office while he answers to criminal charges of bribing an opponent to drop out of last year’s mayoral race.
A day after saying he wanted to hear from the public about whether or not he should step aside, O’Brien announced yesterday that he will remain on as mayor, adding, “I suggest we hereby turn the page on this matter, and let the courts do their jobs of discerning fact from fiction, while we all together get on with the business of serving the people of Ottawa.”
The mayor cited the support he has received in wake of the charges for his decision.
The move disappointed some who wanted the mayor to step aside while the charges work their way through the court process.
Luc Lapointe, with the council watchdog group Eye On Ottawa, said the mayor should have opted to focus on his court case, and then return to city hall after a favourable outcome to his court proceedings.
“I’m not afraid to admit that I voted for him and I think he’s doing a decent job, but he should step aside for the good of the city,” Lapointe said.
At a special meeting Monday, councillors learned they had no power to force O’Brien out during the criminal court case. However, yesterday some were saying that the criminal charges against him would likely at least require a new arrangement on O’Brien’s duties.
“The mayor is in a position where he has to define what his future role will be,” said Rick Chiarelli, who supports O’Brien’s decision to stay.
“It’s not realistic to expect the status quo will continue,” said Coun. Alex Cullen. “Once the dust settles from the budget, then we can have some conversations and get ready for the new year.”
Since they have no authority to direct the mayor, Coun. Peter Hume said councillors should focus on the ongoing budget process and not let the situation distract them.