So far Ottawa Mayor Larry O'Brien's best defence may be that those who have accused him of "influence peddling" are treading water near the shallow end of the "gene" pool.
His defence lawyer, Micheal Edelson, seems to be edging towards that conclusion suggesting that the lead-off prosecution witness, Terry Kilrea, is a perpetual "wannabe", described by a least one high ranking Cabinet Minister...John Baird...as someone who aspires to be "a player around town...someone with power and influence." The case against the Mayor hinges primarily on the credibility of Mr. Kilrea who claims that in at least two meetings with O'Brien during the summer of 2006 he was encouraged to drop-out of the Mayoralty race in return for an appointment to the National Parole Board of Canada. The other high profile witness for the prosecution is the alleged "Mr. X" believed to be teenager Jonathan Amor, 18 years-old in the summer of 2006, who was Minister Baird's dinner guest at "Hy's Steakhouse" when a meeting may have taken place between the Minister and the then candidate for Mayor, Larry O'Brien.
Regardless of the outcome of the O'Brien trial which may last up to 6 or 7 weeks some councillors at City Hall, including the acting mayor, Michel Bellemare, haven't been wasting any time raising their public profiles. The Ward 7 Councillor and Chair of the City's Transportation Committee, Alex Cullen, has already declared his intention to challenge O'Brien for the city's highest office in the fall 2010 election. Although acting Mayor Bellemare hasn't yet announced any future plans, a gushing article on the front page of the daily "Metro" on Monday travels some distance to bolster his profile.
"Metro" publishes daily in most large Canadian cities and has launched a "SunnySide" campaign promoting good news around the nation's major urban areas. It describes the acting Mayor as a 5th generation bilingual Ottawan who is..."still discovering new things about the city he loves most." The newspaper gushes on..."If the nation's capital still holds so many charms for someone who has such deep roots here, the possibilities must be endless for any tourist or visitor lucky enough to come here. And they are, said Bellemare..."
The heart of O'Brien's political career may still be beating...the corpse nowhere near chilled. Still though for foe and friend alike opportunity has "come a knockin" it seems.