NDP calls on Premier to remove Liberal staffers pending outcome of investigation

February 16, 2015 

Hon. Kathleen Wynne
Premier of Ontario
Legislative Bldg, Rm 281
Queen's Park
Toronto ON M7A 1A1

 

Sent by EMAIL‎

Dear Premier Wynne,

As you are aware, your Deputy Chief of Staff Patricia Sorbara is under criminal investigation by the OPP and Elections Ontario for attempted bribery.  An investigator with the OPP's anti-rackets squad believe that Ms. Sorbara committed a crime by trying to bribe Mr. Andrew Olivier with a job or appointment in exchange for his withdrawal from the Liberal nomination race in the Sudbury by-election.

New Democrats are calling on you to do the right thing and remove Ms. Sorbara from her position as Deputy Chief of Staff to the Premier pending the outcome of these investigations. 

Premier, there is ample precedent in Ontario and across the country that when someone is under criminal investigation, they step aside from their duties until the investigation is complete.

It’s unprecedented that your Deputy Chief of Staff is believed to have committed a crime by the OPP and you refuse to remove her from her duties.  This type of arrogance feeds voter cynicism. It profoundly undermines the Office of the Premier, and it shakes the public’s confidence in our democracy. 

Below are just a few examples of people who have stepped aside or resigned from their duties pending a scandal or criminal investigation:

Evelyn Gigantes, Ontario NDP, 1991:
Former Minister of Health Evelyn Gigantes resigned after mistakenly making public a patient’s name in the House. 

Jim Wilson, Progressive Conservatives, 1996:
Former Minister of Health Jim Wilson resigned  pending an investigation from the Information and Privacy Commissioner after it came to light a political staffer disclosed confidential health records to a member of the media. 

Bob Runciman, Progressive Conservatives, 1998:
Former Solicitor-General Bob Runciman resigned when a young offender was named in the 1998 Throne Speech.   

Greg Sorbara, Ontario Liberal Party, 2005
Former Minister of Finance, Greg Sorbara resigned after a search warrant alleged he was part RCMP investigation relating to a land transaction involving the Sorbara Group. 

John Les, British Columbia Liberal Party, 2008:
Former B.C. Solicitor-General John Les resigned his cabinet post pending the outcome of an RCMP investigation into his dealings with developers while he was mayor of the Fraser Valley city of Chilliwack. 

David Caplan, Ontario Liberal Party, 2009:
Former Minister of Health David Caplan resigned over eHealth Ontario spending scandal.

Helena Guergis, Conservative Party of Canada, 2010:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper asked former Minister of State Helena Guergis to resign her cabinet post and sit outside of caucus pending the RCMP investigation into “serious" allegations over her conduct.

General Kash Heed, British Columbia Liberal Party, 2010:
Former B.C. Solicitor General Kash Heed resigned his cabinet position after learning the RCMP was investigating alleged violations of the Elections Act in his campaign office.

Premier, it is of the utmost importance that you follow precedent, lead by example and remove Ms. Sorbara from her duties as Deputy Chief of Staff until these investigations are complete. 

You have a responsibility and duty to the people of Ontario to uphold the integrity of the Office of the Premier and this government.  Last summer, you took an Oath of Allegiance and swore to “serve honestly and faithfully” and to be “vigilant, diligent and circumspect in the performance” of your duties.  We hope that meant to the people of Ontario and not just the Liberal Party.  It is well documented in the media that your loyalty to Ms. Sorbara is steadfast, but we hope that your responsibility to Ontarians is even greater.  Sadly, your refusal to remove Ms. Sorbara, calls into question the Oath of Office you swore to and the integrity of the entire government. 

Premier, the interests of Ontarians must always come before the interests of the Liberal Party.  It’s incumbent on you to prove to Ontarians that you are doing just that. 

Sincerely,

(original signed) 

Gilles Bisson, MPP
Timmins - James Bay
Ontario NDP House Leader

Cc:

Attorney-General of Ontario, the Hon. Madeleine Meilleur
Office of the Integrity Commissioner, Integrity Commissioner Lynn Morrison
Office of the Conflict of Interest Commissioner, Commissioner Sidney B. Linden