Important Ruling in Mayor’s Trial Released

Mr. Justice Cunningham released his decision today in respect of a motion brought by Ottawa Mayor Larry O’Brien in the course of his trial on influence peddling charges. Justice Cunningham rejected the argument advanced by O’Brien concerning the influence-peddling provisions of the Criminal Code. Stockwoods lawyersScott Hutchison and Brennagh Smith successfully argued that the Criminal Code provisions questioned by the mayor were intended to outlaw a wide variety of benefits – including political, not solely monetary, benefits – in exchange for appointments to public office. The case involves allegations that O’Brien offered to help secure an appointment to the National Parole Board for a political rival, in exchange for the rival dropping out of the 2006 mayoral election campaign.

Very little prior judicial interpretation of the influence-peddling provisions of the Criminal Code exists, and the ruling may have a lasting influence on Canadian political practices.

To read Justice Cunningham’s decision, click here. Both the CBC and the Ottawa Citizen maintain ongoing coverage of the trial.