Provincial bureaucrat demoted in computer record deletion scandal
Ontario Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak along with energy critic Lisa MacLeod address media at Queen Park on March 27, 2014. (Michael Peake/Toronto Sun)
A top Ontario bureaucrat — identified as a key figure in the Liberal government’s computer wiping scandal — has been erased as acting deputy for the Ministry of Government Services.
The change was announced within hours of Progressive Conservative MPP Lisa MacLeod’s call for David Nicholl to step aside.
Craig Sumi, a cabinet office spokesperson, said Greg Orencsak had been scheduled to take over from Nicholl on April 22 but it was decided Tuesday that the switch over would occur immediately.
Sumi could not explain the reasons for the decision made by Secretary of Cabinet Peter Wallace and confirmed by Kathleen Wynne’s cabinet.
However, Nicholl remains Ontario’s chief information and information technology officer.
Nicholl could not be reached for comment Wednesday.
An OPP search warrant alleged that David Livingston, a former chief of staff for ex-premier Dalton McGuinty, sought and obtained special administrative access in 2013 that may have been used by an unauthorized individual to wipe clean 24 hard drives in the then-premier’s office.
During that time, a government committee was seeking all documents related to the cancellation of two gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga.
At a media conference Wednesday morning, MacLeod said that the OPP identified David Nicholl as the possible source of that administrative access.
MacLeod said Nicholl should step aside until his name is cleared, although he is not facing any police allegations of criminal behaviour.
Government Services Minister John Milloy accused MacLeod of playing an amateur version of “C.S.I.” and suggested she leave the investigation to the police.
The OPP Information to Obtain (ITO) alleged that Nicholl believed approval was given at a January 2013 meeting to provide administrative access to Livingston, something denied by other attendees.
“It is important to mention that there is some confusion on who provided the approval,” the warrant says.
Livingston’s lawyer has denied any wrongdoing and none of the OPP allegations have been tested in court.