Top Liberal David Livingston Guilty in Ont. Gas Plants Trial
TORONTO -- A former top political aide in Ontario has been found guilty of illegally destroying documents related to a controversial government decision to cancel two gas plants before a provincial election.
David Livingston, who was chief of staff for ex-Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty, was charged with attempted mischief and illegal use of a computer. The destroyed documents were related to the Ontario Liberal government's costly decision to cancel two gas plants in 2011.
Livingston's deputy, Laura Miller, was also charged in the case and was found not guilty.
Judge Timothy Lipson, who presided over the case, said Livingston was a sophisticated individual who knew exactly what he was doing.
Lipson also said the political context around Livingston's actions was highly relevant. That context was the growing pressure in 2012 and early 2013 for the Liberal government to account for the cancellation of the two plants.
"No issues were more challenging or more dangerous to the minority Liberal government than those related to the gas plants controversy," Lipson said. "This was the grim political backdrop."
Livingston was openly dismissive of stern warnings and advice about his obligations to retain and produce gas-plant records a legislative committee had been demanding as it sought a contempt finding against the then-minister of energy, Lipson said.
It defies common sense and reality, Lipson said, to suggest that wholesale wiping of 20 hard drives in the outgoing premier's office was in accordance with policy.
While he was advised about retaining records, Lipson said, Livingston was "more interested in deleting them."
The fact that Livingston failed to warn the cabinet secretary that the wiping of 20 hard drives would be "indiscriminate" was even more serious than hiring Miller's spouse, Peter Faist ┬¡-- who had no security clearance -- to do the job.
"(Livingston) could not have honestly believed that he had the secretary's authorization to do what he did," Lipson said.