MPP backs up Kilrea's account of alleged offer

O'Brien ‘very casually' told her that his rival in Ottawa mayoral race was offered parole-board job, witness tells court at corruption trial


5/28/2009 11:43:53 AM


Bruce Cheadle

Ottawa — The Canadian Press,

An Ontario Tory MPP says Larry O'Brien told her in late July, 2006, that a rival right-wing Ottawa mayoral candidate was being offered a job with the National Parole Board.

The alleged offer is at the heart of two influence-peddling charges against Mr. O'Brien, the Ottawa mayor who is standing trial at Ontario Superior Court.

Lisa MacLeod, a well-connected Conservative who previously worked for two prominent federal MPs, testified she met Mr. O'Brien on July 31, 2006, to discuss his looming municipal campaign.

Ms. MacLeod was much more familiar with another right-of-centre mayoral candidate, Terry Kilrea.

She testified Mr. O'Brien “very casually” told her Mr. Kilrea was being offered an appointment and that it related to the National Parole Board.

Mr. O'Brien has told police that it was Mr. Kilrea who raised the idea of a parole-board job to get him out of the mayoral race and avoid splitting the conservative vote.

Mr. O'Brien said the notion died within hours of their July 12 meeting after he said he was advised that such an inducement would be illegal. Ms. MacLeod, however, testified she recalls Mr. O'Brien telling her more than two weeks later that “we're talking to Terry about an appointment.”

“I believe it was the National Parole Board,” Ms. MacLeod said. “That came up casually, I think, once or twice during the conversation.”

It wasn't clear at the time, she testified, who exactly was doing the talking or making the offer – and she didn't ask any questions.

In a police statement from 2007, Ms. MacLeod said she heard the name of Doug Finley, national director of the federal Conservative Party, come up in relation to the Kilrea appointment. But in court Wednesday, she testified she heard Mr. Finley's name through the political “rumour mill” and not directly from Mr. O'Brien.

Ms. MacLeod previously worked in the constituency office of John Baird, now the federal Transport Minister, and as an assistant to MP Pierre Poilievre, currently the parliamentary secretary to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Mr. Kilrea is the Crown's star witness in the trial and Ms. MacLeod's testimony is the strongest evidence to date backing up his allegations against Mr. O'Brien.

Judge Douglas Cunningham, the associate Chief Justice of Ontario Superior Court, ruled Wednesday that he will permit evidence to stand from three witnesses who discussed recruitment to the O'Brien campaign in August, 2006.

One of the witnesses, a top aide to Mr. Poilievre, has testified he was clearly told by one of Mr. O'Brien's campaign workers that Mr. Kilrea was exiting the mayoral race because he'd “been offered something through the [Conservative] party.”

John Light testified he was told the appointment was being orchestrated by Dimitri Pantazopoulos, who was then the official pollster of the federal Conservatives. The O'Brien campaign worker, Greg Strong, testified under oath that he told Mr. Light no such thing. Mr. Strong did concede they wanted Mr. Kilrea out of the race to keep from splitting the right-of-centre vote.

Regardless of whether an offer was being floated or not, the Conservative director of appointments in the Prime Minister's Office testified late Wednesday that Mr. Kilrea's name never came to him for any appointment.

Dave Penner said his office is forwarded resumes “on a regular basis” and that there was indeed a full-time Ontario opening on the parole board at the time of the alleged offer.

But Mr. Penner said all parole board applicants must be vetted by the board, including a written exam and interview, before their name gets considered for an appointment.






Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre

5/28/2009 11:43:53 AM


With the greatest respect to Justice Douglas Cunningham, he has some serious questions to answer himself.
Why is it that his old law firm is still using his name as the first name when he is no longer with the firm.
Normally a law firm has a slight change of name to remove the judges name, its done immediately upon the lawyer being appointed to the judiciary.

When a judge, and a law firm, leaves that judges n name on the law firm it raises serious questions about the ethics of those involved and begs the question as to why the Chief Justice of Ontario has allowed that law firm to continue using that name especially when transcripts and court documents of public record, show that one of the present partners has failed to deny providing false information to the court and no doubt will expect a fast track to the judiciary.
This is a name that has politics written all over it and it begs the question as to why such a political connected judge was chosen for this particular trial that has politics oozing out of every facet of the case.



5/31/2009 1:42:36 PM

Lawyers with law firms that use as the first name of the their law firm, the name of a serving judge, send a very clear message, "They have a connection with the Judiciary". It is not just improper, its a brazen statement of a corrupt influence.
Its also reflected in the ethics of the lawyers who work in such a firm brazen enough to continue with a judges name as the first name in their law firm.
Even the worst judges in Ottawa, those famous for flagrant abuses of judicial power, had their names removed from their law firms name after appointment as a judge.

Justice Cunningham is well aware of the serious allegations of fraud, fabrication of evidence by a present partner of his law firm and all it would have taken is one phone call to tell his old law firm to take his name off.

Justice Cunningham has failed to take his name off the name of his old law firm and it sends a "I don't give a dam about ethics" to the entire world or at least to those who understand the significance, meaning and messages of such a failure to act.