Ottawa mayor cleared of influence-peddling

Wed Aug 5, 2009 11:56am EDT
 
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OTTAWA (Reuters) - The mayor of Ottawa was acquitted on two charges of influence-peddling on Wednesday at the end of a trial that included testimony from one of the federal government's leading lawmakers.

Mayor Larry O'Brien had been charged with trying to bribe an opponent to drop out of a mayoral race in 2006 and of pretending to have influence with federal Transport Minister John Baird.

Ontario Superior Court Judge Douglas Cunningham ruled there was insufficient evidence to convict O'Brien.

Police laid the charges after rival candidate Terry Kilrea alleged O'Brien approached him and suggested he quit the race in return for a job and help with his expenses.

Kilrea said that O'Brien suggested Baird -- a member of Parliament from the Ottawa region -- might be able to help find him a job. Baird was environment minister at the time.

Baird denied he ever talked to O'Brien about Kilrea, who eventually dropped out of the mayoral race.

O'Brien did not testify during the trial.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Rob Wilson)