Mayor's lawyer challenges reliability of rival
An Ottawa Citizen reporter who broke a story that alleged Ottawa Mayor Larry O'Brien offered to help his rival win a federal post in exchange for dropping out of the 2006 mayoral race may have lied to protect his source, O'Brien's defence lawyer suggested on Wednesday.
Michael Edelson told the court he believes Terry Kilrea, the man who made the accusations against the mayor, could have been the source behind e-mails Ottawa Citizen reporter Garry Dimmock used in the story.
"I am going to suggest that Dimmock lied to protect you and (your wife)," Edelson told Kilrea during questioning on Wednesday.
"I don't agree," Kilrea said.
In his cross-examination, Edelson pushed Kilrea to explain how confidential e-mails exchanged between himself and Transport Minister John Baird, who was then president of the Treasury Board, made it into the hands of the Ottawa Citizen reporter.
Kilrea maintained he doesn't know who forwarded the e-mails to Dimmock.
He told the court he didn't do it; his wife didn't do it; and neither did his webmaster. He went on to suggest they may have been stolen from his house.
Edelson pushed ahead, asking Kilrea if he knows anyone who fits the description of the person who gave Dimmock the documents.
"Dimmock said he was given a brown envelope downtown by a tall, grey-haired woman. Can you think of anyone who fits that description?" Edelson asked.
"No, I can't," replied Kilrea.
In a sworn affidavit filed in December 2006, Kilrea alleged O'Brien offered to help him win a federal post on the National Parole Board in exchange for dropping out of the mayor's race.
O'Brien was charged with two Criminal Code counts in 2007 following a nine-month police investigation into the matter. He pleaded not guilty to the influence peddling charges last week.
Although the affidavit also included allegations O'Brien offered to pay Kilrea's campaign expenses, the charges against the mayor only relate to allegations he offered to help Kilrea with a federal appointment.
Kilrea's credibility and recollection of events were also the subjects of questioning on Wednesday.
While on the stand, Kilrea said he couldn't remember all the details he made in a statement to police and the Crown two months ago.
"What you're telling the court is that you can remember conversations back in July 2006 . . . but you can't remember what was said two months ago?" Edelson asked.
Kilrea only responded: "I can remember the conversation with your client (O'Brien) more than two years ago."
During questioning, Kilrea admitted to calling reporter Gary Dimmock to ask if he had heard anything about rumours surrounding a $30,000-deal to cover his campaign expenses and a possible appointment to the National Parole Board.
When Edelson asked why Kilrea contacted Dimmock, Kilrea said he contacted the reporter to offer him the facts.
On Feb. 10, 2007, the Citizen printed a story outlining the allegations against the mayor. One day later, Kilrea said he was contacted by the president of the Ottawa and District Labour Council who offered his support.
"I just want to tell you, you will get through this hell," Kilrea recalled Sean McKenny saying. "If you need help, the union's here for you."
Kilrea said McKenny asked for a copy of the sworn affidavit, but he refused to give it to him.
When Edelson asked why, Kilrea replied: "I wasn't looking for it to go anywhere."
McKenny eventually did get a copy of the affidavit and later filed a complaint that sparked a police investigation into the case.
The office of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's parliamentary secretary was also dragged into the mix on Wednesday.
Edelson recounted an alleged campaign ploy by Kilrea that appeared to be orchestrated by John Light, the assistant to federal MP Pierre Poilievre, Harper's parliamentary secretary.
Court was told Wednesday that after successfully planting a story in the local news, Light boasted by e-mail to one of Kilrea's campaign workers: "We accomplished exactly what we wanted."
The reply to Light from Kilrea's communications director Tim Tierney was: "So you're kind of like a Doug Finley in the making -- the guy who makes it happen," the court heard.
Finley is the national director of the federal Conservative party and a backroom operator of considerable repute.
The trial was delayed Wednesday morning while the judge dealt with new information lawyers discovered overnight.
Crown attorney Scott Hutchison raised questions about the relationship between Kilrea and the lawyer hired by the Ottawa Citizen to draw up the sworn affidavit, asking if information in the lawyer's notes should be considered privileged.
The judge ruled nothing in the notes should be considered privileged, and gave both sides access to the information as evidence.
Kilrea will be back on the stand on Thursday.
With a report from CTV Ottawa's Catherine Lathem and files from The Canadian Press