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Man at centre of byelection controversy wants TVO documentary released

By Joe Warmington, Toronto Sun

Andrew Olivier being interviewed for the TVO documentary that's now been shelved. (Supplied photo)

Andrew Olivier being interviewed for the TVO documentary that's now been shelved. (Supplied photo)

TORONTO - 

Andrew Olivier may have been politically replaced by Premier Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals but he won’t be silenced.

The man at the centre of the Sudbury byelection controversy is urging the premier to do the right thing and show the citizens of Ontario the spiked TVO documentary in which he was interviewed.

“Sign the release form,” said Olivier, who ran for the Liberals in the 2014 election and lost.

“As far as I knew it was all systems go,” the 36-year-old mortgage broker said Monday of the documentary.

Excited about being in the film, he said he was surprised to learn award-winning director Roxana Spicer quit the project citing editorial independence concerns and TVO asked for its $114,000 advance back from White Pines Pictures.

Olivier was also stunned to see that the documentary had been shelved over scenes revolving around him being asked by senior Liberals to step aside from a nomination process to allow a selected candidate to gain the Sudbury byelection nomination.

“It’s putting the foot on the brakes of a good story,” he said.

It has happened before.

A quadriplegic since he broke his neck in a hockey game when was 14, Olivier took to Facebook last December, writing that the Liberals told him “they had someone else in mind for the candidate and they wanted that person acclaimed without being challenged and asked me to support their choice of candidate” and that “perhaps a job or appointment” could be on the table in exchange.

He described telephone calls with Liberal “heavyweights” Gerry Lougheed and Pat Sorbara and also said “Premier Kathleen Wynne contacted me by phone and also told me she wanted someone else as the candidate.” Olivier told all three “that I wanted to seek the nomination to be Sudbury’s MPP” and would seek no appointment.

“I understand decisions have to be made sometimes but you can’t forget who you are,” he said.

In the end, he decided to step away from the Liberal party, which gave the nomination to Glenn Thibeault. The NDP MP went on to win the byelection — defeating Olivier who came in third as an independent. But the big news was the OPP investigation into the allegations he was offered a position to step away. Olivier has turned over taped conversations he had with senior Wynne representatives to the provincial police. All of the parties mentioned have said they have done nothing wrong. No charges have been laid.

“I have not heard from the OPP since February but I have no doubt there is an investigation going on,” he said.

OPP sources tell the Toronto Sun they want to view sections of the documentary on the Sudbury byelection fallout.

Olivier wonders what could be in it that has so many people pulling so many strings to suppress it.

“There is censorship here and there has been a heavy hand,” he said. “I ruffled some feathers. Who knows what is going on?”

Since it’s an “educational documentary and a good learning tool” he wants Wynne to “shine a light on it” and let it be broadcast.

He says all he has done is stand up for the principles he was raised with.

“I think that will show up in the documentary,” Olivier said.

If the people of Ontario ever get to see it.

***************

Perhaps one day they will make a documentary on the mystery documentary?

It certainly heated things up for some good footage in the legislature during question period Monday with a good verbal exchange between Leeds-Grenville PC MPP Steve Clark and Premier Kathleen Wynne.

Clark: “Premier, for months you’ve refused to hold anyone accountable for the allegations of bribery in the Sudbury byelection. Now you want to turn out the lights on a TVO documentary. Taxpayers spent over $114,000 for your infomercial that you want to shut down. It’s an indictment to you and your government that, even when trying to film a documentary, the footage looks more like a crime drama. You personally invited the director to film you in Sudbury, and it’s obvious there’s something in that footage that you don’t want to see the light of day. Will you stop acting like a censor and direct TVO to air this documentary and turn over the raw footage to the OPP?”

Wynne: “As I have said publicly, we worked closely with the producer to determine what the parameters or the scope of the film would be. It was to be a behind-the-scenes look at the budget. Over the course of the filming, there was a discussion about the scope of the film. We shared these concerns with the producer — and that was our sole contact for the project, not TVO. There was always a clear understanding that we wouldn’t have editorial control; that was understood. I have not seen any of the footage. I’ve said that publicly; that is true. I’ve never seen any of the footage. We’re really still hoping that the film can happen.”

Wynne: “The reason that I and we agreed to this was that there is a film that was made in the Bill Davis era ... explaining how government works. That really did need to be updated ... I hope that it will still go ahead.”

Clark: “Once again, the premier’s story is, “There’s nothing to see here, folks.” The problem is that every time you say that, the OPP and the chief electoral officer think differently. If there’s truly nothing to hide, then prove it: Let’s all have a look at the movie. I’ll even buy the popcorn, premier. Over the weekend you said, premier, that you hope the film will be aired. If that’s the case, I expect you to show some accountability by signing the release forms after question period. Will you sign those forms, or will you force the OPP investigators to sign yet another warrant for this scandal?

Wynne: “There was a discussion about the scope of the film. My understanding up until this became public was that the film was going ahead, that we were going to be able to. I have not seen the footage and I hope that we’ll still be able to see it aired.”

joe.warmington@sunmedia.ca


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