Monday, October 20, 2014

Gas plant scandal thickens

TORONTO—Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne struggled yesterday to distance herself from her predecessor, Dalton McGuinty, amid explosive police allegations that his chief of staff may have committed a breach of trust in the ongoing gas plants scandal.
Provincial police allege in unsealed court documents that they believe David Livingston gave an outside tech expert—the boyfriend of a senior staffer—access to 24 computers in the premier’s office.

According to the documents, Livingston sought high-level access to the computers to “wipe clean the hard drives” after McGuinty resigned amid controversy over the costly cancellation of two gas plants.
It’s alleged that during the transition period to Wynne’s administration, Livingston arranged for his executive assistant, Wendy Wai, to have special access to desktops in the premier’s office—even though she had little knowledge of computers.
Police believe Peter Faist, who wasn’t a government employee, was the person who actually accessed the 24 computers using Wai’s administrative privileges, including Miller’s, Livingston’s, and other staffers.
Faist, who police believe is the partner of former deputy chief of staff Laura Miller, was never officially hired by the government and did not undergo the required security screening, the documents say.
According to two staffers in the premier’s office, Faist accessed their computers a few days before Wynne was sworn in—saying he was getting them ready for the next government, police say.
The staffers said they couldn’t log into their computers after Faist left and called IT staff, who said it was clear that system files had been deleted, police allege.
In February, the OPP seized hard drives from government computers at ReCall, a data storage facility in Mississauga, Ont.
It’s part of their investigation into the unlawful deletion of government e-mails concerning unpopular gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga that were cancelled by the Liberals ahead of the 2011 election.
None of the allegations have been proven in court.
Livingston’s lawyer, Brian Gover, said his client “did nothing wrong and certainly did not break the law as alleged.”
“He was consistently open about his actions in the Premier’s Office, and he always believed that those actions were proper and in accordance with normal practices,” Gover wrote in an e-mail.
“We are confident that a full review will show that the allegations are baseless.”
The Progressive Conservatives said it’s clear the Liberals don’t have the moral authority to govern.
“We now know that the cover-up and criminal destruction of documents and e-mails took place in Kathleen Wynne’s office under her watch as premier,” charged Opposition leader Tim Hudak, adding that she “possibly ordered the destruction of documents.”
Hudak’s accusations that she participated in a crime and a cover-up are “irresponsible . . . disgraceful and they’re an insult to his office,” Wynne fired back.
NDP leader Andrea Horwath, meanwhile, said she finds it “unbelievable” that Wynne didn’t know about what was going on in the premier’s office.
But she wouldn’t rule out propping up the Liberals by supporting their budget, as her party has done for the past two years.

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