The trial of Kathleen Wynne.

The trial is set to begin in Sudbury, Ontario on September 7. We would ignore the trial and its political implications if it did not involve the present Premier of Ontario. Mind you Kathleen Wynne will spend most of the trial on the sidelines. She is not charged with a crime. She has lackeys for that.

Standing in for the Premier is a long-time staff member, Patricia Sorbara. Pat has been in and around the Ontario Liberal Party at Queen’s Park since the mid 1980s. She has risen slowly from minor roles with junior ministers to the premier’s office. Choosing her to tell a former candidate to back off from a byelection was not exactly the vote of confidence that any political apparatchik wants to hear. It means you can be disavowed if things go wrong.

Sorbara and her local contact, a prominent Sudbury undertaker and Liberal fundraiser, Gerry Lougheed were just that. If anything were to go wrong with the Premier’s plan, those two (as they say in politics) were there to be thrown under the bus. And Sorbara and Lougheed were.

There does not seem to be any denial of the facts of the conversations with former candidate, Andrew Olivier—who, as a quadriplegic, records important chats rather than taking notes. There seems to be no way though to lay a charge against the Premier for what she might have told them to say.

Another unindicted defendant in this trial will be Ontario’s minister of energy, Glen Thibault, the winning Liberal candidate in that Sudbury by-election. While there were some carefully worded criticisms of his role from his former friends in the New Democratic caucus at Queen’s Park, he records nothing and remembers nothing improper being offered to him to encourage him to run for the Liberals in the by-election.

But it will be the news media and the public who will make that connection after the trial is over. And if there is even the hint of a criticism of the Premier in the judge’s ruling, it will be embellished and shouted louder by the opposition in next June’s provincial election.

And then the election itself will be the severest test of all. Because no matter who wins next year’s provincial election, the losers will be the Ontario voters.

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Copyright 2017 © Peter Lowry

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