TORONTO — Former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty told police investigating the deletion of emails in the $1.1 billion gas plants scandal that his office was “verbal in nature” and kept few records, court documents released Friday revealed.
“Mr. McGuinty took the opportunity during the interview to speak about the overwhelming verbal nature of communications inside his office,” wrote Det. Andre Duval in a request for a court order for visitors logs to the legislature.
The police interview with McGuinty, conducted in April, is detailed in an ‘Information to Obtain a Production Order’ which the OPP filed with the Ontario Court of Justice.
The OPP anti-rackets squad served the order last week, which added fuel to the gas plants scandal in the middle of the campaign for Thursday’s election, but didn’t stop the Liberals from winning a majority government.
McGuinty told police he was unfamiliar with records management policies and did not recall talking about the issue with David Livingston, his former chief of staff.
Police say in the court documents that Livingston is under investigation for possible breach of trust, but his lawyer has maintained he did nothing wrong and has broken no laws.
“Mr. McGuinty did mention that the chief of staff is ultimately responsible for all the activities that take place in the premier’s office, including records management,” wrote Det. Duval.
The court order asked the legislature’s manager of technology infrastructure services to produce visitor logs to the Ontario legislature for Peter Faist, a computer expert who was on contract to the Liberals until earlier this year.
Police allege Livingston obtained a special administrator’s password to all computers in the premier’s office and gave it to Faist, the boyfriend of his deputy, Laura Miller, to wipe the hard drives clean. The OPP earlier said they recovered data from only four of the 24 hard drives seized after they were removed from the premier’s office.
The OPP are probing the deletion of documents related to the cancellation of gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga to save Liberal seats in the 2011 election, and the wiping of hard drives during the transition in early 2013 from McGuinty to Kathleen Wynne.
A spokeswoman for Wynne’s office said Friday that the documents “do not implicate any staff” in her government.
“The order is directed at the Legislative Assembly only, not ministers, MPPs or political staff,” said press secretary Zita Astravas in an email.
It was the Liberal’s initial refusal to hand over gas plant documents to an opposition-dominated legislative committee that led to a rare contempt of Parliament charge and forced McGuinty to resign under a cloud of scandal in Oct. 2012.
Wynne apologized repeatedly for the gas plants during the election campaign, and even though it didn’t appear to hurt the Liberals with Ontario voters, the issue was the first the re-elected premier faced at a Friday news conference.
She said the committee looking into the gas plants would resume, but now that opposition will no longer control it, she suggested there won’t be any more witnesses called even though the Tories and NDP want to hear from Faist and Miller.
“I made a commitment that we would recall the committee and that they would now be able to move to complete their report and advise the government on how to make sure that such a thing never happens again,” said Wynne.
The premier also suggested she won’t drop her $2-million libel suit against the Progressive Conservative party and leader Tim Hudak _ who announced his resignation Thursday night after conceding the election _ for suggesting she may have been responsible for the destruction of gas plants documents.
“The only reason that suit is in play … is that when there are false allegations, it’s unacceptable,” she said.