News Provincial

Premier McGuinty's staffer nicknamed hard drive wiping, court told

By Sam Pazzano, Toronto Sun

TORONTO - 

A senior political staffer nicknamed a project to wipe clean computer hard drives — allegedly to erase data linked to the gas plants scandal — within the office of former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty, court documents alleged Thursday.

Laura Miller, McGuinty’s former deputy chief of staff, who hired her common-law spouse Peter Faist, an outsider, for the job, dubbed the assignment “Pete’s Project.”

Miller and her boss, David Livingston, McGuinty’s then chief of staff, are accused of deliberately and illegally destroying relevant public records stemming from the billion-dollar gas plants cancellation boondoggle. Both have pleaded not guilty to charges of breach of trust, mischief to data and unauthorized use of data.

Earlier, Crown attorney Sarah Egan said Miller and Livingston “acting together destroyed records that they had a legal duty to preserve.”

Egan said that days after Livingston obtained the passwords, purportedly so that he could delete personal information from his computer before exiting his job, Faist “began wiping the hard drives.”

Egan said Livingston even coached his staff on how to double delete e-mails to make sure they were really gone.

And in the two months before McGuinty handed over the premier’s office to Kathleen Wynne in 2013, thousands of computer files were wiped, Egan alleged.

The 180-page volume of documents, including emails between political staffers, were made an exhibit at trial on Thursday.

The name “Pete’s Project” appeared in the subject line of an email Miller sent to Livingston’s administrative assistant, Wendy Wait, on Jan. 24, 2013.

Wai was completely unaware of what “Pete’s Project” was, so she asked her boss about it.

“Good by me. Thanks!” answered Livingston.

spazzano@postmedia.com