Crown withdraws Bryant’s charges

Ex-MPP says incident with cyclist has changed him

Former St. Paul’s MPP Michael Bryant will remain a free man after charges were dropped against him last month in the death of bike courier, Darcy Allan Sheppard.

“As for the justice system, I now have a unique perspective from its highest pedestal as attorney general to its pillory, a defendant cuffed in the back of a squad car, accused of two very serious offences involving the tragic death of a man,” Bryant said in a prepared statement May 25.

While he said the incident had altered his self-described manically cheerful and audacious disposition, it also brought to a screeching halt the political career of a politician who was considered by some to be destined for the premiership one day.

First elected as St. Paul’s MPP in 1999 after defeating Progressive Conservative incumbent Isabel Bassett, Bryant quickly rose through the ranks of the Liberal caucus. He became the province’s youngest ever attorney-general in 2003 and would go on to hold other portfolios, such as Aboriginal Affairs and Economic Development.

In May 2009, Bryant announced that he would be leaving Queen’s Park to become CEO of Invest Toronto, an arms-length government agency formed by Mayor David Miller in order to help spur investment in the city.

In a statement released a year to the day before the charges against Bryant would be dropped, Miller called Bryant “exactly the person Invest Toronto needs in this important leadership role at this time of challenge and opportunity.” The statement also noted that Bryant had an excellent track record and had been appointed unanimously by Invest Toronto’s 22-member board.

Bryant resigned from Invest Toronto in September. While it’s not clear whether his role in Sheppard’s death will prevent him from re-entering politics, he has made it clear that for the time being he has practical needs to address, namely whopping legal bills. He said he will continue working as a special advisor on energy, clean technology and natural resources at the law firm of Ogilvy Renault, where he has worked since December.

Bryant’s fall from grace was precipitated by an incident that occurred on Bloor Street West on Aug. 31. Driving back from an anniversary dinner with his wife, Bryant’s car crossed paths with Sheppard, who was intoxicated. A conflict ensued, resulting in Sheppard’s death and charges of dangerous driving and negligence for Bryant. On May 25, special prosecutor Richard Peck withdrew the charges, announcing that there was no reasonable prospect of conviction on either charge.

About this article:

By: Joshua Freeman
Posted: Jun 9 2010 12:08 pm
Filed in: NEWS
Edition: Toronto