Ontario Supreme Court Justice Douglas Cunningham is expected hand down his verdict in Mayor Larry O’Brien’s influence peddling trial Wednesday morning.
O’Brien is facing two criminal code charges stemming from allegations that he offered to help get Terry Kilrea an appointment to the National Parole Board in exchange for Kilrea dropping out of the mayoral race.
A guilty verdict would require O’Brien to vacate the mayor’s chair, which would have serious repercussions next door at city hall.
Rideau-Vanier Coun. Georges Bédard said, in the event that O’Brien is forced to step down, the most sensible option would be to choose someone from council to finish the term as mayor.
“I would imagine it’s the only choice left open to us. Otherwise, we’re into a byelection that would cost roughly $4 million and I don’t think we want to go down that route,” he said. “We’ll have a decision and we’ll move ahead in whatever direction is necessary as a result of that decision.”
Kilrea, whose testimony formed the core of the prosecution’s case, said he was planning to stay far from the Ottawa courthouse on Wednesday.
“I don’t need to go there. If he’s found guilty, why pile on? There will be enough people there, they don’t need me there,” he said. “I’m just like everyone else, just waiting to see what it is. Once I hear it and read it, I’ll have a comment if it’s guilty. If it’s not guilty, I’ll have nothing to say.”
The Ottawa and District Labour Council was the official complainant in the case that launched the OPP investigation into O’Brien’s alleged offer in March 2007.
Regardless of the verdict, ODLC president Sean McKenny said it’s good for the city to have the saga finally coming to an end.
“Even before the investigation started, and after the charges were laid, this has been something weighing very heavily upon our community and on certain individuals,” he said. “I think it’s important that we put this to bed. Hopefully we can do that after Wednesday.”