On Friday, several print outlets, lead by David Reevely at the Ottawa Citizen, reported on the latest OPP Search Warrant involving the Liberal gas plant scandal.
The new ITO contains some significant new information in the gas scandal saga:
- The ITO indicates that the police have “additional potential suspects” in addition to David Livingston, McGuinty’s former Chief of Staff, who has been the centre of attention so far in the investigation.
- One of those potential suspects appears to be Laura Miller, who was jointly coordinating the document destruction with Livingston. (See for example Line 2296)
- The ITO documents extensive new evidence of a coordinated effort to destroy government documents by many of McGuinty’s core group in addition to Livingston and Miller — including Beckie Codd-Downey (now working for Wynne), Neala Barton (now at PanAm Games), and David Phillips (then Chief of Staff to the Gov’t House Leader).
The ITO also meditates on the meaning of nothing.
The November 2014 seizure of email records of the official email accounts of Livingston and Miller, discussed in Part 70 of this series, yielded surprisingly little communication traffic among McGuinty’s core group on the subject of the gas plants. The police surmise that the communication on this topic was conducted using media other than official email accounts.
The police are now investigating a government-issue BlackBerry that Livingston used. It seems likely to me that Livingston might have preferred a personal cell phone and email for sensitive communications. Several newspaper pieces have quoted the ITO’s affiant, Constable Duval, stating in the
“I believe that one of the reasons that investigators were unable to locate messages concerning the gas plants or government records management, is that communications related to those issues were often conducted offline through the assistance of a government issued BlackBerry cellular telephone…I believe that this type of communication was favoured since it was not routed through the government email accounts and avoided the creation of any government records which could potentially be reviewed following a Freedom of Information request.”
Out of 58,024 e-mails from Miller and Livingston recovered by police, very few related to the power plant cancellations, despite it being a hot file for the government. Again Duval:
“I believe that the lack of records concerning the gas plants is unusual and troubling. I believe it is difficult to accept that the Chief of Staff of the Premier of Ontario would not be made aware of the ongoing negotiations concerning the gas plants or made aware of any other issue that could have an impact on the government (for example the gas plant records requested by the Standing Committee on Estimates and the Standing Committee on Justice Policy.)” (Line 2689)
Reinforcing the suggestion that other means of communication were used for gas plant scheming, traces of email discussions were obtained from the November 2014 seizure where members of the core group, like David Phillips Chief of Staff in the Government House Leader’s Office, Miller and Livingston, were organizing conference calls “to keep this offline”. (Line 993)
Former PC leader Tim Hudak also picked up on the meaning of nothing. The ITO notes that he wrote to McGuinty October 14, 2012 decrying gaps in the government’s disclosure to Standing Committee on Estimates.
“The 20,000 document package is almost devoid of emails, correspondence of briefing documents between the offices of the energy Minister, Premier and Cabinet Office…it strongly appears that there is an orchestrated and coordinated effort to cover up the nature of how this short sighted political decision was made and its true costs.” (Line 1038)
The day after Hudak sent this letter, McGuinty announced his resignation
Although it hasn’t appeared in the ITOs so far, it seems useful to remember that Livingston did a stint as Senior Vice President, Electronic Banking, TD Canada Trust, indicating some familiarity with records management practices.
Earlier today, Warren Kinsella posted a comment on his blog about fair comment about women in politics and specifically defending his friend Laura Miller. I posted the following comment, which Mr. Kinsella did not see fit to allow through moderation:
Miller may be no dummy, but more importantly she is not consistent in telling a straight story. When Miller testified to the Justice Policy Committee about the gas plant scandal, August 6, 2013, she also wove a web of statements contradicted by facts. Here are two glaring ones:
Mr. Victor Fedeli: Then, under oath, tell me, did you have responsive documents to either of these two FOI requests? Yes or no.
Ms. Laura Miller: At the time I did the research, no.
Mr. Victor Fedeli: So what you’re saying is you deleted your emails to do with the gas plant? That’s why you have none?
Ms. Laura Miller: I would delete political, personal and transitory emails.
The Nov. 2014 OPP ITO documents many emails obtained from seized computers where Miller is initiating and coordinating government responses to the gas scandal. For example, when then energy minister Bentley was asked by the press to explain who decided to cancel the Mississauga power plant, Bentley couldn’t answer as to whether it was the Liberal party or McGuinty. In an email sent by Miller the day this news broke, under the subject line “Energy minister isn’t saying who made decisions to cancel gas plant”, Miller states, “Can we determine if this was a Cabinet or Treasury Board conversation and move this discussion off of the party and over to the government? Governments make decisions here not OLP Platforms or press releases.” (Line 560) In this same email series, Miller adds, “Understand we now have details on what shook down. He has to communicate and own it. Thk.” (Line 573) (See more at: http://www.tomadamsenergy.com/2015/01/22/gas-busters-part-70-we-have-broken-through/)
The available record on Miller indicates that during her involvement in the gas plant scandal she told tall tales to the Justice Policy Committee contradicted by facts, she worked as a team with McGuinty’s Chief of Staff David Livingston and others in a planned program to destroy public documents, and she has refused to cooperate with police investigating Livingston.