DAVE AGAR

March 28th Commentary

Posted By: Dave Agar · 3/28/2014 7:22:00 AM

Gas plant cover up?

The stuff really hit the fan yesterday over the apparent cover up of the McGuinty government's gas plant scandal. As well it should, but there's political spin in this that I find reprehensible. Basically Ontario PC leader Tim Hudak is trying to paint the Premier of this province as a criminal and there's not a shred of evidence presented thus far to back up the claim.

So let me strip this down.

We knew 9 months ago that at the request of the PC's at Queen's Park the OPP had launched a criminal investigation into allegations of a cover up because emails were deleted and other files vanished related to the fiasco. At issue is whether the deletions were criminal or stupidity or the result of the normal transition of power from Dalton McGuinty to Kathleen Wynne.

In the process of the investigation the OPP wanted a judge to swear out a warrant for potential evidence. In so doing the police made this allegation: Dalton McGuinty's last chief of staff David Livingston pulled rank and brought in an outside IT expert who was the boyfriend of one of Livingstone's senior staffers. That outsider was given complete access to 24 computers in the Premier's Office. The OPP suspicion is that he wiped those computers because their were emails and other files related to the gas plant boondoggle. The officer told the judge that if his forensic people can recover that deleted data it could prove one way or the other whether gas plant files were deliberately shredded as part of a criminal conspiracy or breach of public trust. If it turns out to be the provable, then McGuinty's chief of staff David Livingstone could then be implicated in the conspiracy and of course there would be an attempt to walk it back to the former Premier. Did McGuinty give the order or a nudge, nudge, wink, wink.

That's where we are. We don't know if the OPP forensic guys have found anything or can prove anything. We just know what the investigator suspects. If it is true this is Olivia Pope style "Scandal"...the stuff of TV shows, movies, books and jailhouse lore. It's big. Jaw dropping.

The OPP are good at what they do and if they prove this, there are people who should go to prison no matter how high up this goes. We're not there yet and there's no guarantee police will ever get there.

How we get from that to PC leader Tim Hudak's outrageous allegation, based on nothing, that this scandal is now more Kathleen Wynne's than it is Dalton McGuinty's is gutter politics. Desperation politics.

Here's my view of what Hudak is hanging his hat on. When the chief of IT at Queen's Park granted special access to the computers in the Premier's Office it was for a limited window. It'd be just like when you forget your password for an app and you get an e-mail that says here's your temporary password. You have 24-hours to use it to get in and change your password. In this case, the window of access was February 4th of last year to March 20th. Kathleen Wynne took over as Premier a week after the special computer access pass began and was still open for about another month.

To wit Hudak claims.

"It's more of Kathleen Wynne's scandal than Dalton McGuinty's because she oversaw and possibly ordered the destruction of these documents," he said.

"The allegations indicate that an individual came into the office to delete emails. This did not happen after I became Premier on February 11th," Wynne responded.

In other words Wynne is saying that while this outsider still had the special access password to the computers when she became Premier, he physically did not come into the Premier's Office from the day she took over on February 11th. If he did get in after that date, there is no evidence of it in the OPP documentation.

What I don't get about PC leader Tim Hudak is why he feels the need to take the moral low road when there are a myriad of things for which he is and should be legitimately critical of the Wynne Liberals. It leaves me wondering, if Hudak stoops this low in opposition what would he be like as Premier?

Enbridge

You probably won't feel the full effect of this until next winter but the Ontario Energy Board has granted interim approval for Enbridge Gas to boost the natural gas supply component of your bill by 40 percent starting next Tuesday.

It's because the price Enbridge had to pay skyrocketed over the winter during a period of unusually high demand because of the cold and because it believes the price will be going up even more in the future.

The Energy Board will take another look at this decision to see if it can blunt the impact on consumers by spreading it out over a longer period.

Debate

Another debate in the Toronto Mayor's race last evening.

John Tory got more aggressive with Rob Ford over his connections to criminals.

Ford insisted that he does not condone drug dealers or crack cocaine but he does condone being the best mayor this city has ever had...a statement that drew moans and groans from the Ryerson audience.

Malaysia

That massive search for the Malaysian jetliner deep in the Indian Ocean. They're not searching there anymore.

New calculations show the plane was flying faster than first thought and probably ran out of fuel sooner so the search area has moved northeast 11-hundred kilometres.

It's easier to reach and the weather and wave action is not nearly as horrible. Moments ago we got word that a New Zealand spotter plane has already spotted debris in that new search zone.

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