Ottawa mayor pleads not guilty on bribery charges
Published Monday, May 4, 2009 7:10PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, May 18, 2012 10:49PM EDT
Ottawa Mayor Larry O'Brien pleaded not guilty Monday on bribery and influence peddling charges stemming from allegations he offered to help another candidate in exchange for dropping out of the 2006 mayoral race.
O'Brien said nothing as he arrived at the Elgin Street courthouse with a smile on his face Monday morning.
His wife Colleen, two sons and ex-wife Debbie O'Brien were present as the mayor entered his not guilty plea.
When asked how tough the trial will be, O'Brien's lawyer Michael Edelson replied: "Only time will tell."
O'Brien was charged with two Criminal Code counts in 2007 following a nine-month police investigation.
The charges stem from allegations O'Brien offered to help fellow mayoral candidate Terry Kilrea win a federal post with the National Parole Board in exchange for leaving the 2006 race for mayor.
Kilrea also swore in an affidavit that O'Brien offered to pay his campaign expenses. However, the charges against the mayor only relate to the allegations he offered to help Kilrea with a federal appointment.
No cameras in court, blogging allowed
Lawyers for both the Crown and the defence argued successfully against media requests to use cameras in court on Monday, saying it's far too late to introduce such an application, which they said would sensationalize the trial.
However, the judge ruled he would allow reporters to use blackberrys and other electronic devices to blog the trial as it happens.
"It is a precedent so that you guys can use your Blackberrys to gather information and disseminate what went on instantaneously," said Rick Deardon, a lawyer representing CanWest.
The Crown and defence are scheduled to go over hearsay evidence on Tuesday, deciding what will be admissible in court. Lawyers say the first witness likely won't be called until May 11.
Witnesses include Transport Minister and Ottawa West-Nepean MP John Baird, who was president of the Treasury Board at the time of the municipal campaign.
On Saturday, O'Brien temporarily stepped aside as mayor, taking an unpaid leave of absence while his case goes to trial.
If convicted, the mayor will be forced from office and could face up to five years in prison, according to provincial law.
The trial is expected to run as long as eight or nine weeks.
With a report from CTV Ottawa's Catherine Lathem