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Police video interview likely mayor's only words at influence peddling trial

OTTAWA - Mayor Larry O'Brien told police that he never offered a rival candidate a job to quit the 2006 municipal election, but did express interest in acquiring his website.

OTTAWA - Mayor Larry O'Brien told police that he never offered a rival candidate a job to quit the 2006 municipal election, but did express interest in acquiring his website.

O'Brien's videotaped police interview was entered into evidence Monday at his trial on two counts of influence peddling.

The charges follow an allegation by Terry Kilrea that he was offered expense money of up to $30,000 and a five-year appointment to the National Parole Board if he would leave the field to O'Brien.

Given that O'Brien appears unlikely to take the witness stand, the interview may represent his only first-person version of the events in question.

During a police interview in April 2007, O'Brien said he met Kilrea initially for about an hour in July 2006.

The two right-of-centre candidates engaged in what O'Brien called a "swinging-dick contest" for most of the meeting.

The men were facing off over who would bow out of the race to keep from splitting the conservative vote.

"I was swinging the dick back" at Kilrea, O'Brien told police.

The Ottawa mayor, who has taken a leave of absence to attend his trial at Ontario Superior Court, said he expressed an interest in acquiring Kilrea's organization and political website.

But O'Brien insisted it was Kilrea who raised the matter of a federal appointment almost in passing at the very end of their meeting.

"I never offered him a job. Period," O'Brien told police.

O'Brien, acknowledging he wanted Kilrea out of the race, says he told his opponent to go for it, but that he couldn't help.

And he admitted telling Kilrea to call Conservative cabinet minister John Baird - advice he later learned was "off-side."

"My message was real clear: you've got to do this on your own. You know John Baird."

O'Brien said in the interview he was new to politics.

"It's a real rookie mistake, me even talking to this guy."

But, he added, it was a mistake without criminal intent.

The trial is in its third week and is being heard by judge alone.

 
 
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