Gas Busters Part 78: Watching Livingston’s Sentencing Hearing

Today began the sentencing hearing for former Premier McGuinty’s chief of staff David Livingston.

Livingston’s defence team presented 27 character witness statements. About half of those witnesses appeared in person, and several of those stayed the entire long day of the hearing. One travelled from Vancouver to appear.

And what a parade of notables!

One former cabinet minister, several prominent business leaders, a professor from the Ivey School, several business partners, and many top civil servants made statements of support. A former colleague at TD Bank explained how Livingston had innovated job-sharing to retain talented women raising children. A CEO of Ovarian Cancer Canada and board members from branches of the Children’s Aid Society praised his volunteer charity work to the skies. Top public administration execs gushed about his honesty and integrity. Several witnesses described his work at Infrastructure Ontario as “a showcase”, “the gold standard”. Olympic silver medallist Dylan Moskowitz appeared in person, explaining how Livingston and his wife anonymously supported his skating career financially without ever seeking any recognition. His wife, children and brother-in-law made extremely touching personal statements about him. Lifetime friends from high school showed up for him. A minibus full of A-list lawyers appeared or filed sweeping statements extolling his virtues.

One weird bit was that one of those A-list lawyers was Rob Prichard. Folks following this series will know he played a very sketchy role screwing the public in the gas scandal, paying off the hedge fund EIG all for the political benefit of then Energy Minister Chris Bentley. The EIG payoff long preceded Livingston’s much later document scorching role.

Many witnesses emphasized that Livingston left a very successful business career for much lower paying work in the public service so that he could “give back”.

One theme that recurred many times over the day was witnesses describing their cognitive dissonance seeing news reports on what Livingston had done with public documents, finding it completely contrary to their personal experience of the man. Retired lawyer Timothy Wilkin said he reacted to news of Livingston’s criminal activity as “inconceivable…inconsistent with the person I know”. A former TD exec, whose name sounded like Kerry Rattle (very bad acoustics and I have probably mangled this person’s name) commented that the matters related to his conviction were “incredibly out of character”. Former CEO of Invest Toronto, Renato Discenza, said that he knew Livingston as “a protector of taxpayers”. (These quotes are only from notes, not from recordings and might be off slightly.)

The evidence adduced in the trial leaves a gap in explaining what happened to Livingston that turned this apparently upstanding guy into a criminal.

What happened in the Premier’s Office leading up to and during late 2012 and early 2013 that turned David Livingston, then McGuinty’s chief of staff, into a document scorcher, knowingly violating laws by destroying public documents in order to thwart my FOI appeal, another FOI for Peter Tabuns, and to prevent legislative committees from getting to the bottom of the gas scandal?

At the beginning of the day, I knew David Livingston only as the document scorcher, who conspired with Laura Miller and Peter Faist to wipe out public data on government computers. I had no idea about the scale of his own personal tragedy. Surrounded by his family, friends and associates, Livingston seemed to me isolated in his own nightmare. As his supporters spoke, I became overcome with a creepy feeling, as if there was a slouching dark shape with a bad smell peering into the courtroom from a safe distance, watching its malicious work play itself out.


(Line edited Feb 27 6:45 am)


  1. Comment:

    Greetings Gumshoe Adams!

    Can you advise how one would obtain a list of the character witnesses?

    I am particularly interested in names of the top civil servants and A-list lawyers.

    Your assistance in this matter would be greatly appreciated if time permits.


    • My notes are incomplete and probably badly misspelt but here are a few others where I have reasonable notes: James Solomon, retired PWC partner; Ingrid Perry, CEO McKenzie Health; Noella Milne, BLG partner (and major figure in prominent charities).

      You might try Court Services at Old City Hall for the complete character witness exhibit. Warning: they have previously made court documents available but at a price of $1/page. Ouch. The exhibit containing the witness statements appeared to me to be perhaps 100ish pages.

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