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Livingston guilty – Proof of how far the corrupt Ontario Liberals will go to win an election

January 2018

The most corrupt government in Ontario’s history was dealt a serious blow in an Ontario court on 19 January 2018.  Ontario court Judge Timothy Lipson found David Livingston, former Chief of Staff to former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty, guilty of attempted mischief to data and illegal use of a computer.

Former Deputy Chief of Staff Laura Miller, who faced the same charges, was acquitted.

This was the second time Liberal party operatives were in a court case.  In October 2017, Patricia Sorbara, former deputy chief of staff to Premier Kathleen Wynne, and Sudbury area Liberal organizer Gerry Lougheed, were aquitted of charges under the Ontario Elections Act for offering prospective candidate Andrew Olivier jobs or posts to quit his abandon his efforts to obtain the Liberal nomination in a 2015 by-election in Sudbury, making way for Wynne’s choice, former NDP MP Glenn Thibeault, who is now the Ontario energy minister.

The charges against Livingston came about in the wake of the cancellation of the two natural gas hydro plants in Oakville and Mississauga prior to and during the 2011 election, and later the destruction of records related to the decision.

Opposition critics dubbed the cancellations as a “seat-saver program” because public opposition to those power plants had the potential to scuttle Liberal re-election plans in those ridings.  Cancelling construction of the already in progress gas plants and building them in alternate locations ended up costing over $1.1 billion despite the Liberals repeatedly insisting that the total costs would be just $230 million.

The scandal contributed to the resignation of Premier Dalton McGuinty and then-Energy Minister Chris Bently.  Neither McGuinty nor Wynne were implicated in the criminal investigation.

Justice Lipson’s scathing judgment, which took him three hours to read, was critical of both Livingston and Laura Miller, despite acquitting her.  In his findings, Lipson took great issue with Livingston employing a “scorched earth” policy to destroy government records that he should have known he had an obligation to preserve.

The verdict couldn’t have come at a worse time for McGuinty’s successor, Premier Kathleen Wynne, whose governing Liberals will no doubt take a pounding from opposition parties in the months leading to the June 2018 election.

Premier Wynne’s quickly went into damage control by saying the case involved former staff to the former premier.

Opposition Leader Patrick Brown quickly applauded Lipson’s decision.

“It’s a sad day when a premier’s most senior official is found guilty of trying to orchestrate a cover-up of the $1.1 billion gas plant scandal,”  Brown said in a statement. “The guilty verdict is an indictment of the 15 years of Liberal political corruption that has long been rooted in the premier’s office.”

It’s only because of the fact that the Liberals were reduced to a minority government in 2011 that we even know about this scandal.  Since the opposition parties had a majority in legislative committee hearings looking into the cancelled gas plants that were able to secure documents that implicated Livingston and Miller.

The real losers in this mess are the people of Ontario who will never know the true cost of the cancellations and who did what.   This scandal demonstrates the lengths that the Ontario Liberals will go to keep power.  Just think of all the provincial programs that could have been funded for the $1 billion plus that was pretty much just shoveled into a blast furnace for corrupt political purposes.

Premier Wynne has maintained from the beginning of this scandal that she knew nothing about the “seat-saver program”.  The reality is that she was the co-chair of the election team in 2011 and her signature was on a cabinet document that included Wynne’s signature authorizing payment for the cancelled Oakville gas plant, so for her to say she knew nothing is absurd.

In the wake of this scandal, former Energy Minister Chris Bentley, faced a rare contempt of Parliament accusation that was quashed when McGuinty unexpectedly ended the legislative session in October 2013 by proroguing the legislature before the motion could be voted on by the opposition parties.  Given that the Liberals held a minority government at the time, the motion would likely have succeeded.

The conviction of Livingston could give ammunition to the revival of the contempt motion against Bentley.

In the almost 15 years that the Ontario Liberals have been in government, they have been subjected to three police investigations, with one still on-going after five years.  Maybe it’s finally time for the Ontario voters to wake up and turf the Liberals out of office, although I’m not betting on it.

Sources:  http://nationalpost.com/news/politics/a-timeline-of-the-ontario-gas-plants-scandal-that-led-to-criminal-charges-against-former-premier-mcguintys-staff, http://torontosun.com/opinion/columnists/agar-ontario-gas-plants-scandal-not-old-news, http://nationalpost.com/news/canada/newsalert-david-livingston-guilty-in-ontario-gas-plants-trial-2.


About the author

Bruce Forsyth

Bruce Forsyth served in the Royal Canadian Navy Reserve for 13 years (1987-2000). He served with units in Toronto, Hamilton & Windsor and worked or trained at CFB Esquimalt, CFB Halifax, CFB Petawawa, CFB Kingston, CFB Toronto, Camp Borden, The Burwash Training Area and LFCA Training Centre Meaford.

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