Crown urges judge to convict two ex Liberal aides for deleting gas plants records

Says that the accused were only destroying personal or Liberal party data don't jibe with the evidence.

November 22, 2017   by Colin Perkel

TORONTO — The prosecution at Ontario’s gas plants trial is urging the judge to convict two former senior political aides for illegally destroying documents.

Crown lawyer Tom Lemon tells the court that defence claims in the case simply make no sense.

He says arguments that the accused were only destroying personal or Liberal party data don’t jibe with the evidence.

Instead, Lemon says the accused took “extraordinary” measures to delete records related to the Ontario government’s decision to cancel two gas plants ahead of the 2011 provincial election.

David Livingston and Laura Miller, former top aides to ex-premier Dalton McGuinty, have pleaded not guilty to charges of attempted mischief and illegal computer use.

Lemon says the accused adopted a “shotgun” approach to wiping 20 hard drives, including on computers belonging to others.

The key question, Lemon told Ontario court Judge Timothy Lipson, is why would they have gone to such unusual lengths to wipe drives that weren’t even theirs.

The only “rational” answer, Lemon went on, is that they wanted to eradicate any gas plant records to thwart requests from a legislature committee or through freedom of information laws.

Taking extraordinary and unprecedented steps to wipe computers in the premier’s office to get rid of photographs of their children, resumes or other personal information as the defence argues is absurd, Lemon said. Nor was there ever any indication they were trying to get rid of party information.

“The stated purpose was wiping personal data – which makes absolutely no sense,” Lemon said.

Livingston showed a clear “preoccupation with how emails and computer accounts were deleted and how they were backed up, court heard.

Apart from McGuinty himself, Livingston was the most senior member of the premier’s office and no reason existed that he should have been concerned with wiping personal information of other people in the office, Lemon said.

Lemon insisted Livingston obtained the administrative rights to the computers from senior bureaucrats by deception, and that Miller was an active and knowledgeable part of the scheme.

“You’re doing it through the back door,” Lemon said.

The defence, which has yet to make its closing oral submissions, maintains in its written arguments that Lipson must acquit the accused.

“The only reasonable inference, on all the evidence, is that departing staffers were concerned about personal and political data being securely deleted,” they state in a joint written submission.

“Mr. Livingston and Ms. Miller, along with others in the (premier’s office), proceeded transparently to take reasonable steps to address that concern, while remaining entirely within the bounds of their legal obligations.”

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