Cancelled gas plant, deleted e-mails then the cover-up
(Tim Peckham/Toronto Sun)
Dustin Hoffman and Robert Redford would know what to do.
We could use them, now. With the deleted e-mails caper, we have our own Watergate.
A scandal like this needs its own movie — All the Premier’s Men.
So who’ll play former premier Dalton McGuinty?
Anthony Perkins, who played Norman Bates in Psycho, would be perfect. Then again, he’s dead. But he had those shifty eyes.
New Democratic leader Andrea Horwath will be played by Honey Boo-Boo.
And the best person to play Tory leader Tim Hudak? Charlie Sheen, of course.
The story is eerily similar to the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate building in 1972.
It wasn’t so much the break-in that caused the problem for disgraced former U.S. president Richard Nixon.
It was the cover it up.
That’s what the deleted e-mails are all about.
The outrageous cancellation of two gas-fired power plants led to a cover-up.
Back in 2010, the provincial government announced they were scrapping building a new gas-fired plant in Oakville.
The following year, days before a provincial election, they announced they were also pulling the plug on a plant in Mississauga that was well under construction.
They waffled on costs — from $40 million to $190 million to — well — whatever.
Two independent officers of the legislature — provincial auditor-general Jim McCarter and now Information and Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian — have issued scathing reports on what happened when those plants were scrapped.
McCarter slammed the amount of money that was poured down the drain when the order to halt construction of the Mississauga plant was issued. He said it cost $275 million to put that plant out of its misery.
According to McCarter, the Liberals botched the cancellation, adding millions to the cost.
That was bad enough.
Last week, we found out from Cavoukian that key members of McGuinty’s staff and the chief of staff to former energy minister Chris Bentley deleted e-mails as they quit Queen’s Park.
Just as McCarter had been scathing in his criticism of the costs, Cavoukian was incensed by the manner in which relevant information was deleted from government e-mails.
Cavoukian was shocked by testimony from Craig MacLennan, Bentley’s chief of staff, to the justice policy committee, April 9.
On questioning from New Democrat Peter Tabuns about e-mail records, MacLennan had this to say:
“I regret that I didn’t have any responsive documents. My colleague co-ordinated the search in the office. All I can speak to is what my work habit is, which is to keep a clean inbox. I always have worked that way. I don’t know what my colleague’s work habits are.”
When he was asked if he archived any of his e-mails, he said, “I don’t know how to archive anything. I don’t know what that means.”
And here I was thinking I was computer illiterate. MacLennan made $124,572 a year according to the 2012 Sunshine List. And he didn’t know how to archive a document? Anyone got a 12-year-old who can help him out?
“The fact that any member of a minister’s political staff would think it appropriate to delete all e-mail records, without exercising any judgment regarding the content of those records and the possible need to retain them pursuant to the applicable retention schedules is, quite frankly, unbelievable. It is also a matter of great concern,” Cavoukian said.
Meanwhile, Horwath is left looking foolish for propping up the Liberal budget.
On one hand, her MPPs are slamming the Liberals for deleting the e-mails. Apparently they’re so outraged at the sleazy Liberal government that they’re going to prop them up once again Tuesday when they support them on the budget vote.
Hudak’s Tories are the only ones whose hands are clean on this. They said right from the start that they couldn’t support the Liberal budget — which turns out to be a smart move.
Tories asked OPP Commissioner Chris Lewis for a criminal probe and on Friday, Lewis confirmed a detective has been assigned to the case.
And later Friday, McGuinty released a written statement saying he was unaware his staff had cleaned out their e-mail.
“I was unaware of discussions between government staff and the Ontario public service regarding the deletion of documents,” McGuinty said. “At no time did I condone or direct the deletion of e-mails or documents which ought to have been preserved.”
Well, nice try, but these employees were senior, hand-picked, loyal members of his staff. He may not have known what they were doing, but he certainly has to take responsibility.
Cavoukian has some final words of warning.
“Thomas Jefferson said the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.
“The way you engage vigilance is that you ensure that government records are accessible,” she said. “You need openness and transparency to have that kind of accountability and that was completely missing here.”
That says it all.
Just one more question. Who will play Wynne in the move? Betty White? Maggie Smith?