Larry O'Brien urged rival Terry Kilrea to accept what he characterized as a generous inducement to leave the 2006 race, suggesting the alternative was a dirty-tricks campaign aimed at destroying his candidacy, the mayor's trial heard Monday.

The two men were the only two right-of-centre mayoralty candidates in the municipal election. And "prominent Conservatives" wanted the two to come to a business arrangement about who would run, Kilrea said during the first day of testimony at O'Brien's influence-peddling trial.

O'Brien told him they'd make it worth his while to pull out, he testified inside Courtroom 36 at the Elgin Street courthouse.

Kilrea said O'Brien suggested his team could have played hardball, using a vulgar, Richard Nixon-era term for dirty campaign tricks.

"We could have just ratf****d you," Kilrea said he was told by O'Brien.

Kilrea recounts face-to-face meeting at 700 Sussex

O'Brien has pleaded not guilty to two counts of influence peddling for allegedly offering Kilrea, his accuser, an inducement to drop out of the mayoralty race.

Kilrea testified that during the summer of 2006, Heather Tessier, O'Brien's niece, told him the tech executive planned to run for mayor and wanted to make contact.

The two men met on July 12, 2006 at 700 Sussex Dr., the condominium complex where O'Brien lives. He told Kilrea that the meeting was a courtesy, and that two right-of-centre candidates would split the conservative vote and both lose.

"If you weren't running what would you do," O'Brien allegedly said.

Kilrea told court that O'Brien indicated he could get him a federal appointment if he quit the race, and was told that senior Conservatives didn't want to see him get hurt by abandoning his campaign.

  • THE MAYOR ON TRIAL: Follow the mayor's trial, read background information on the charges, and watch CTV Ottawa's coverage since 2006

"They would like us to come to a business arrangement today," Kilrea recalled O'Brien saying.

Kilrea, who initially replied that he had no intention of leaving the race, expressed some interest in the National Parole Board, given his law-and-order background as an Ontario corrections officer.

He quoted O'Brien as telling him: "What if I could make that happen," and, "John Baird is the key. John Baird is the one who makes this happen."

The job offer was a five-year appointment to National Parole Board at an annual salary of $110,000, he said. Kilrea was taken aback by the offer and said he would consider the possibility.

O'Brien called back within a few hours of his face-to-face meeting and told him he was "in the queue."

O'Brien indicated that had been arranged by John Reynolds, Harper's campaign co-chair in the 2006 election, Kilrea testified.

Kilrea also testified that during the July 12 meeting at 700 Sussex Dr., O'Brien asked how much had spent on the 2003 and 2006 mayoral campaigns.

Kilrea told court he was shocked when O'Brien said his team could cover campaign expenses totalling between $20,000 and $30,000.

Baird: "This is the first I've heard of it"

Kilrea said he was told to contact Baird, then the Treasury Board president, about the parole board appointment. Kilrea had worked on the campaigns of Baird, now the transport minister, and Nepean-Carleton MP Pierre Poilievre, currently the prime minister's parliamentary secretary.

Kilrea e-mailed Baird, who responded with: "Sorry, what does this mean?"

The former mayoral candidate sent a second message: "Larry O'Brien phoned me and told me I was being considered and I should advise you."

Baird than asked: "Are you looking for an appointment? This is the first I've heard of it."

The two agreed to meet in person at a later date, and Kilrea imparted this information to O'Brien.

"Larry said he had screwed up, he had to go about this a different way, that John would be pissed off," Kilrea testified.

Kilrea said he and Baird did meet for an hour in Baird's office. Kilrea said he talked about his employment situation, but never raised the parole board job and neither did Baird.

Defence continuing to cross-examine

Defence lawyer Michael Edelson began his cross-examination in the afternoon.

Earlier, the prosecution's opening statement alleged O'Brien had or pretended to have influence with the federal Conservative government in order to induce Kilrea to quit the race.

Before calling Kilrea to the stand, Crown prosecutor Scott Hutchison launched proceedings with a "narrative" that alleged O'Brien wanted the fellow small-c conservative out. Kilrea's explosive affidavit prompted a 2007 police investigation that resulted in the criminal charges.

These are not offences, Hutchison noted, "that we deal with on a daily basis."

Monday's proceedings were also full of objections and debate about conflicting dates and hearsay evidence.

The trial is expected to last nine weeks in Superior Court before Justice Douglas Cunningham.

With reports from CTV Ottawa's Catherine Lathem and The Canadian Press