Firstly, I would like to welcome back the crack investigative teams of the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail from their fruitless search of the elusive and now non-existent Ford “crack cocaine video.”
I know it must have been fun getting down and dirty with the US gossip webpage “Gawker” and being interviewed by American tabloids and American late night hosts.
And having your “15 minutes” of Hollywood fame on American TV.
But now it is time to get back to serious investigative journalism and the potential criminal actions of a slew of senior staffers from the offices of former Premier Dalton McGuinty and the former Minister of Energy.
As I reported in my previous Huffington Post article, “Ford Is Distracting the Press From This Story”, while the Star and Globe reporters were digging deep into the messy private lives of the Ford Family and their assistants, Keith Leslie, of the Canadian Press, without major fanfare, but very effectively and professionally, broke this devastating story over 7 days ago.
That is, Dalton McGuinty’s senior staffers allegedly deleted internal emails and destroyed documents pertaining to the controversial cancellation of the two gas plants.
The scandal threatens to bring to an end the Wynne Liberal Government and the political career of Premier Wynne.
When the Keith Leslie report was first published, the response by Liberal apologists was that the deletion of emails was at worst a breach of an obscure provincial act, “The Archives and Recordkeeping Act, in which according to the Liberal Attorney General Gerretson, there are no penalties for such breaches.
According to the same Huffington Post article, Attorney General Gerretson, stated,” “Maybe we should be taking a look at penalty provisions.” Attorney General John Gerretsen also admitted he wasn’t sure of the rules on keeping emails.
“I’m quite sure that a lot of us would not have been totally familiar with what you can or cannot delete, quite frankly, from emails,” said Gerretsen.
Apparently, to the Ontario Attorney General, this seems to be a mere question of unclear government policies relating to the minor matter of document retention.
Perhaps the Attorney General should have read my above-noted article a little more carefully, posted over a week ago, when I strongly suggested that the deletion of emails and the destruction of documents in the face of an ongoing Ontario quasi-judicial legislative committee investigation of the cancellation of the gas plants, could be deemed criminal acts contrary to the Criminal Code.
Let us recap a little history.
Over a year ago, after Dalton McGuinty was returned as premier in a minority government, a Tory/NDP quasi-judicial legislative committee was set up to investigate the cancellation of the famous gas plants in Mississauga and Oakville.
For over a year, this same legislative committee has been demanding the disclosure of the relevant documents pertaining to this scandal.
Which included the internal emails and documents in the offices of the Premier and the Ministry of Energy pertaining to the gas plant cancellations and the negotiations with the plant owners and operators and other parties to these matters!
The McGuinty government, of which Kathleen Wynne was a senior Cabinet Minister has resisted every effort. The McGuinty government circled the wagons and (to mix a metaphor), stonewalled the opposition.
And the McGuinty government only grudgingly disclosed some relevant documents, but certainly not all the relevant information.
Notwithstanding the efforts of this legislative committee and the numerous Freedom of Information requests launched at the McGuinty government.
To the point that the opposition parties brought a rare motion of contempt ofParliament against former Liberal Minister Bentley and basically ground legislative business to a halt.
In order to avoid further politically embarrassing disclosures, Premier McGuintyprorogued the legislature and then he stepped down as Premier.
Then by magic, some more relevant documents were discovered and released to the said legislative committee, but still no internal emails and documents of the senior staffers in the offices of the Premier and Minister of Energy.
In this context, the Attorney General of Ontario should have considered that the destruction of such emails and documents which have been sought by the relevant Ontario legislative committee could be construed as criminal obstruction of justice in order to cover up the government policies of his own government.
Because lo and behold, contrary to the Liberals’ wishful thinking, the OPP has launched a criminal investigation into all those senior Liberal staffers involved with the deletion of the emails and destruction of the documents.
As I suggested in my original Huff Post article, the opposition Tories and NDP should be demanding that the investigation of those senior staffers should be conducted by an impartial, outside of Ontario and independent special prosecutor, together with investigative forces outside of Ontario, namely the RCMP or other provincial investigators, so as to avoid any appearance of conflict or bias.
As to Premier Kathleen Wynne, she cannot distance herself from this scandal.
As a senior Cabinet Minister in the McGuinty Government she knew about the opposition demands for the said internal emails and documents. She knew or ought to have known these relevant emails and documents were not available, as they had been deleted and destroyed.
So the classic Watergate question.
What did Kathleen Wynne as Senior Cabinet Minister in the McGuinty government know about the internal emails and documents? What was her involvement with the alleged cover up of these emails and documents and the alleged deletion and destruction of these documents?
Premier Wynne can no longer claim ignorance and fall back on the classic SargeantShultz defence of “Hogan’s Heroes” fame, “I see Nothing. I know Nothing.”
Saying sorry will no longer cut it any more.
Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal Government is at serious risk and her political career is on the line.