There was shock and disbelief at Queen's Park as former colleagues of Michael Bryant tried to digest the news he now faces criminal charges.
"My thoughts are with the family and friends of the gentleman who lost his life," said Premier Dalton McGuinty, Bryant's former boss, at a news conference. "With respect to the case itself, I think the best thing to do is let the investigation unfold."
McGuinty stayed away from answering questions as to how Bryant, a former Ontario attorney general, should be treated in court.
"I have confidence that anyone who comes before Ontario courts will be treated with due process," he said.
Bryant was attorney general for nearly four years. Ontario Crown attorneys will not be used in the prosecution of this case, said Brendan Crawley, a ministry spokesman.
"We are in the process of retaining outside counsel," Crawley said
All questions from reporters to the political staff of Attorney General Chris Bentley were referred to the bureaucratic side of the ministry. "The attorney general and his staff are screened from this matter from this point forward," said Crawley.
At the federal Liberal caucus meeting in Sudbury, news of Bryant's arrest stunned politicians who have had close dealings with him over the years.
Montreal MP Irwin Cotler was one of them.
"I know Michael Bryant from the days when I was minister of justice and he was attorney general in Ontario. We met on a number of occasions," Cotler said. "His wife was a former student of mine at McGill law school and we became friends. I've always had the highest regard for him."
Ujjal Dosanjh, a former premier and attorney-general of British Columbia, said he was simply "sad" to hear the news.
"My heart goes out, of course, to the family of the deceased and to Mr. Bryant and his family. I don't know the circumstances. I don't know what he was doing, what he was thinking," Dosanjh said.
"I just feel sad at the situation. No one needs to be in that situation."
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath and Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak also offered their condolences to the family of the victim.
Toronto communications firm Navigator Ltd. has been retained to provide
assistance to Bryant. Navigator's Robin Sears, a senior partner at the firm, has
acted as a spokesperson for former prime minister Brian Mulroney and was chief
of staff to former Ontario premier Bob Rae.
With files from Susan Delacourt
Commentary by the Ottawa Mens Centre
Virtually every other Canadian politician who has had "a brush with the
law" got off. The nearest example of something similar was probably Rene
Levesque who he ran over and killed a homeless man while rumored that he and an
unknown woman had been previously drinking. When Gordon Campbell got caught
drinking and driving in Hawaii, it cost him $913.
Then of course there is Brian Mulroney, whose publicity machine is at it again today, about how his image has not been tarnished. Pigs fly too.
Virtually all the press had censored comments that are not favorable to Bryant, there has been a concerted effort to "highjack" the trial of public opinion. Literally thousands of "approves" and "disapproves, have swamped internet news forums, often with highly sophisticated posts designed to divert readers from the substantive facts with anything, anything that might assist in raising "reasonable doubt".
It is no coincidence that the "communications firm" , "retained" by Michael Bryant "to provide assistance" is none other than the same firm, Navigator, who have also "acted" for Brian Mulroney.
Wow, Bryant has friends in high places, even the CBC it appears have
conveniently taken him right off the radar and relegated any news about him to
the hard to read and find areas.
Amazing how corrupt the CBC is behaving on this issue.