Ontario Provincial Police have laid criminal charges against two aides to former premier Dalton McGuinty in connection with the deletion of documents related to two cancelled gas plants.
The former premier was never the subject of investigation or suspected of criminal wrongdoing. It is his former chief of staff, David Livingston, and his deputy, Laura Miller, who each face three charges under the Criminal Code. The allegations include breach of trust and the misuse of a computer system to commit the offence of mischief.
Two of former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty’s top aides face criminal charges for their alleged role in the deletion of emails related to the controversial cancellation of two gas plants.
David Livingston and Laura Miller — who served as chief of staff and deputy chief of staff to the premier respectively — face three counts under the Criminal Code for “wrongdoing involving the handling of computer data,” according to an Ontario Provincial Police press release.
They were each charged Thursday with one count of breach of trust, one of mischief in relation to data and one count of misuse of a computer system to commit the offence of mischief. All are federal charges under the Criminal Code and were laid in consultation with the Public Prosecution Service of Canada — federal prosecutors brought in to avoid any conflict of interest with the provincial attorney general’s office.
Here is a list of key events in the long-running scandal that culminated Thursday with these charges:
September 2009: Ontario Power Authority announces it has accepted TransCanada’s bid to build a 900-megawatt natural gas-fired power generation facility in southeast Oakville.
Dec. 11, 2009: The fast-growing Citizens for Clean Air coalition in Oakville steps up opposition to the project with campaign slogan: ’It just doesn’t make sense.’
Oct. 1, 2010: Opponents of proposed Oakville gas plant bring in famed American environmental activist Erin Brockovich to speak against building the project so close to homes and schools.
Oct. 7, 2010: The Ontario government announces the cancellation of the proposed Oakville Generating Station.
Sept. 28, 2011: In middle of the Ontario election campaign, Liberal candidate Charles Sousa announces plan to scrap a partially built gas plant in Mississauga, but construction continues for another two months.
Oct. 6, 2011: The Liberals fall one seat short of third majority government, but save all their seats in the Mississauga-Oakville area where two gas plants were cancelled.
July 16, 2012: Liberals announce that the decision to stop construction on the Mississauga gas plant and relocate it to the Sarnia area will cost $190 million.
Sept. 13, 2012: Speaker Dave Levac issues a preliminary ruling that Energy Minister Chris Bentley was in contempt of parliament for refusing to produce all documents on the cancelled plants to a legislative committee.
Sept. 14, 2012: Premier Dalton McGuinty tells the legislature the government doesn’t want to release all the gas plant documents until it completes negotiations to compensate developers of the cancelled projects.
Sept 24, 2012: Energy Minister Chris Bentley announces a deal with TransCanada Energy to relocate the cancelled Oakville plant to an Ontario Power Generation site in Bath, near Kingston. He claims total cost of cancelling the plant is $40 million.
Sept 24, 2012: Liberals release 36,000 documents on the two cancelled gas plants. McGuinty and Bentley say that’s all the documents that exist.
Sept. 25, 2012: Progressive Conservatives introduce a contempt of parliament motion asking that the case against Bentley go to a committee for public hearings.
Sept. 27, 2012: Ontario Power Authority advises the government it is searching out more gas plant documents.
Oct. 2, 2012: Conservatives and New Democrats send the contempt motion against Bentley to a legislative committee for public hearings.
Oct. 12, 2012: About 20,000 more pages of documents on the cancelled gas plants are released.
Oct 15, 2012: McGuinty suddenly announces a plan to resign as premier and prorogues the legislature until February to allow for a cooling off period after the bitter contempt debate, and to give the Liberals time to pick a new leader.
Nov. 1, 2012: McGuinty says all documents have been released and total cost will be $230 million.
Jan. 26, 2013: Kathleen Wynne wins the Liberal leadership race.
Feb. 7, 2013: Premier-designate Wynne asks the auditor general to investigate costs of cancelling Oakville gas plant, in addition to looking into Mississauga project.
Feb. 8, 2013: Bentley announces his resignation from politics.
Feb. 19, 2013: Legislature resumes sitting. Progressive Conservatives revive contempt of Parliament charge against the Liberals over cancelled gas plants, which died when McGuinty prorogued the legislature.
Feb. 21, 2013: Government announces a third batch of documents on the cancelled gas plants has been unearthed.
Feb. 28, 2013: Premier Wynne expands mandate of justice committee “to look at the tendering, planning, commissioning, cancellation, and relocation of the Mississauga and Oakville gas plants.”
April 15, 2013: Auditor General Jim McCarter reports the decision to scrap gas plant in Mississauga will cost at least $275 million, $85 million more than the Liberals had been claiming.
May 7, 2013: McGuinty tells legislature’s justice committee he made the decisions to scrap the Oakville and Mississauga gas plants, and did so without knowing what it would ultimately cost.
May 15, 2013: Wynne apologizes for way the government cancelled the gas plants, admitting mistakes were made.
June 5, 2013: Ontario’s privacy commissioner rules top Liberal staff in McGuinty’s office broke the law by deleting all emails related to the cancellation of the two gas plants.
June 7, 2013: Ontario Provincial Police launch a criminal investigation into the destruction of emails involving the cancellation of two gas plants by senior Liberal staff.
July 29, 2013: New Democrats say new batch of emails on the cancelled plants shows unelected officials in McGuinty’s office tried to pressure the Speaker into changing his ruling on contempt of Parliament.
Aug. 20, 2013: Privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian says staff in Premier Kathleen Wynne’s cabinet “misled the public” about ability to recover deleted emails related to the cancelled gas plants.
Oct. 8, 2013: Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk estimates cost of cancelling the Oakville gas plant at between $675 million and $815 million. Total cost of cancelling plants in Oakville and Mississauga rises to between $950 million and almost $1.1 billion.
March 27, 2014: An unsealed police search warrant alleges authorities believe David Livingston, McGuinty’s last chief of staff, gave an outside tech expert access to 24 computers in the premier’s office to wipe out hard drives during the transition period between the McGuinty and Wynne governments.
June 12, 2014: Wynne, who distanced herself from McGuinty, is elected as premier with a majority Liberal government.
June 13, 2014: Newly released court documents reveal that in April, McGuinty told police investigating the deletion of emails in the gas plants scandal that his office was “verbal in nature” and kept few records.
Oct. 21, 2014: Ontario’s opposition parties accuse the government of blocking attempts to call more witnesses before a committee looking into the gas plants. They want to hear testimony from former McGuinty staffer Laura Miller and her computer tech boyfriend Peter Faist about the wiping of computer hard drives in the premier’s office.
November 2014: OPP serve a search warrant at a government office seeking emails and backup tapes for Miller and Livingston related to the gas plants cancellation.
Dec. 11, 2014: Police allege in newly released court documents that the Ontario Liberal caucus paid Faist $10,000 to wipe computer hard drives in the premier’s office.
Feb. 17, 2015: The legislative committee says the Ontario government needs to clarify and strengthen its document retention process.
Dec. 17, 2015: Police charge Livingston and Miller with breach of trust, mischief in relation to data and misuse of a computer system to commit the offence of mischief.