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Police probe whether meeting took place at popular restaurant
Politics Watch News Services
November 1, 2007, updated 4:20 p.m.

Hy's Steakhouse is popular with Conservative ministers, MPs and political staffers. It is located just blocks away from Parliament Hill, as this satellite photo illustrates .
(Photo courtesy Google Imagery)

OTTAWA  (PoliticsWatch.com) —  An Ontario Provincial Police investigation into allegations Ottawa Mayor Larry O'Brien offered a federal job to a mayoral race opponent is now focusing on a popular restaurant.    

Hy's Steakhouse is one of the favourite after work  destinations for Conservative ministers, MPs, political staffers, lobbyists and the media while Parliament is sitting.   

People who eat there can enjoy appetizers such as oysters Rockefeller for $14.95 or house specialties such as grilled pork chops for $27.95. 

Two weeks ago, a who's who of Ottawa's media and political class partied into the wee hours at Hy's after the Conservative government released its throne speech. 

Unknown to the throne speech revellers at the time, a few weeks earlier, on September 19, the OPP had obtained a warrant known as a "production order" to determine whether O'Brien and a campaign adviser met with Environment Minister John Baird at Hy's.

Police are investigating whether the mayor "did procure to be given to (former Ottawa mayoral candidate) Terry Kilrea a reward of an appointment to the National Parole Board as consideration for the co-operation by Terry Kilrea to withdraw from the 2006 mayoral race." 

Kilrea never received an appointment and no one has been charged in connection with the investigation. 

Documents that have been made public show the police are interested in any contact between O'Brien and his campaign, Kilrea and Baird during the summer of 2006. 

According to media reports, the police warrant for Hy's was for credit card receipts of O'Brien, his adviser, Baird or O'Brien's company, Calian Technology. Police were also seeking documentation on reservations and the names of restaurant staff who may have served the three individuals between the dates of July 11, 2006 and August 8, 2006. 

What was discovered as a result of the warrant is not publicly known. 

Baird, who was interviewed by the OPP in May, is denying having dinner with O'Brien, but cannot not rule out the possibility that he may have "bumped" into O'Brien or his adviser at Hy's, a place the minister admits he frequents. 

"There's the potential that I might run into them during the period in question," he told the Globe and Mail this week. "I didn't have dinner with them during that time frame. I may have bumped into them. I just don't recall."

O'Brien has said that he never discussed a possible appointment for Kilrea with Baird. 

Another warrant sought records from O'Brien's computer or Blackberry related to emails he may have sent to or received from Baird, Conservative campaign chair John Reynolds, Kilrea, his executive assistant and others. 

The OPP has already filed emails Kilrea sent to Baird regarding a parole board appointment.   

The Ottawa Citizen reported that Baird replied to Kilrea in an email: "Are you looking for an appointment ... this is the first I have heard about it ... heard a rumour yesterday that Larry was once again thinking about it."

Government House Leader Peter Van Loan rejected attempts by the Liberals in question period this week to link Baird to the controversy. 

"I think the minister has been fully helpful in volunteering information to the authorities for their investigation," Van Loan said. "Nobody has ever suggested that he did anything improper. In fact, that is what the record shows clearly."

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