McGuinty maintains innocence over gas plant scandal
Former Ontario premier encourages public not to jump to conclusions about police allegations
TORONTO—Former Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is maintaining his innocence in the ongoing gas plants scandal.
McGuinty, who left the premier’s office just over a year ago, says he was never made aware of nor did he direct the deletion of emails or documents.
He says in a written statement that he served alongside a hard-working and dedicated staff who were “committed to the highest standards of public service.”
McGuinty says he encourages everyone not to jump to conclusions about police allegations of deleted emails related to the cancelled gas plants until the “ongoing process” is complete.
His comments come after unsealed court documents alleged his former chief of staff may have committed a breach of trust.
Provincial police allege that David Livingston gave an outside tech expert—the boyfriend of a senior staffer—access to 24 computers in the premier’s office.
It’s alleged Livingston sought permission to “wipe clean the hard drives” during the transition period from McGuinty to current Premier Kathleen Wynne.
Wynne says the ex-staffer has never been a member of her government and that she is co-operating with the investigation.
None of the allegations have been proven in court and a lawyer for Livingston says his client has not broken the law.
The information was provided by police to a court to obtain a search warrant.
In February, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) seized hard drives from government computers at ReCall, a data storage facility in Mississauga, Ont.
It’s part of their probe into the unlawful deletion of government emails concerning unpopular gas plants in the Toronto-area cities of Oakville and Mississauga that were cancelled by the Liberals ahead of the 2011 election.
The police launched their investigation last June after the provincial Tories complained that gas plant emails were intentionally deleted by McGuinty’s senior staff.
Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian had ruled that top Liberals in McGuinty’s office broke the law when they deleted the emails.
The opposition parties said the emails were wiped out to cover up the true cost of killing the gas plants, which the auditor general estimates could climb to $1.1-billion—far more than the $230-million the government claimed.
Wynne has denied accusations from the Progressive Conservatives that she possibly ordered the destruction of documents, since the special access code was still valid when she was sworn in on Feb. 11, 2013.
Wynne says Livingston and other McGuinty staffers never worked for her or her government, and they didn’t have access to the premier’s office since the day she took over.
But the new allegations may influence whether Ontario will be plunged into a spring election.
The minority Liberal government will fall if it cannot win the support of one of the opposition parties to support its budget, whose date has yet to be announced.
The New Democrats won’t say if the latest allegations are enough to finally pull the plug on a government they’ve heavily criticized but have propped up for the past two years.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath renewed her call for a public inquiry and said a special prosecutor from outside Ontario must be appointed to work with the provincial police in their investigation.