How the Globe and Mail Got Its Groove Back

In a recent Huffington Post blog, I was unduly critical of the Globe and Mail‘s lack of coverage of what I considered to be a far more serious and far-reaching investigative issue: the alleged criminal deletion of emails and destruction of documents of senior staffers in Premier McGuinty’s office, pertaining to the controversial cancellation of two Ontario gas plants.

Well, I am sorry. Mea culpa.

The Globe has picked itself up. The mighty has risen.

And the top notch Globe investigative reporters are doing what they do best, holding Ontario Liberal staffers and potentially senior provincial Liberal politicians to account, for their alleged wrongdoing, and potentially the alleged criminal acts of obstruction of justice, contrary to the Federal Criminal Code.

In a recent devastating article, entitled, “Premier’s staff purged records after power-plants probe began,” Karen Howlett of the Globe, reported that, “The e-mail records of a close adviser to Ontario’s former premier were purged five weeks after a legislative committee ordered the government to release all documents in connection with the controversial cancellation of two gas-fired power plants.”

The Globe‘s Howlett further reported that specifically, the email account of Chris Morley, former chief of staff of Premier McGuinty was permanently deleted shortly after he left Queen’s Park, together with the email accounts of Morley’s successor, David Livingston and the email accounts of Jamison Steeve, McGuinty’s former principal secretary and Sean Mullin, McGuinty’s former director of policy.

According to reporter Howlett — Morley, Livingston, Steeve and Mullin, were all part of a high-level initiative, to manage the fallout from the cancelled Oakville power plant.

I kid you not.

It appears touchy-feely Premier Dad’s office was a front for a highly secret clandestineoperation, codenamed, Project Vapour.

Suddenly, we are in John le Carre territory

And what a shadowy, secretive world, this is!

Are Morley, Livington, Steeve and Mullin, also codenamed “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy”?

Howlett’s article raises another important question: Who ordered the deletion of these emails?

Howlett notes,

“It is not known who gave the order to erase e-mails that could have shed light on the cancelled projects. The documents submitted by Premier Kathleen Wynne’s office to an adjudication review officer, including affidavits on the deleted e-mails, are silent on the matter. Mr. McGuinty issued a statement Friday evening saying he neither condoned nor directed the deletion of e-mails, ‘which ought to have been preserved.'”

In addition to fingers being pointed at the former Premier McGuinty, the actions of Mr. Livingston, McGuinty’s former chief of staff and successor to Morley, are coming under further scrutiny.

In a report last week, Ontario Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian singled out Mr. Livingston for asking the head of the province’s civil service “how to wipe clean the hard drives in the Premier’s office” and ensure electronic records were deleted permanently.

In order for an action to be deemed criminal and contrary to the Criminal Code, there has to be a mental element to the act (the intent to obstruct justice) and the actual physical act (the deletion of emails to obstruct justice in order to avoid a judicial proceeding).

The issue then becomes, who ordered the destruction of the emails, who knew about the order to destroy the emails or who ought to have known about the order to destroy the emails?

The investigation of such questions not only involves former Premier McGuinty’s office, but may involve the current Premier’s office and the offices of her current Cabinet Ministers.

This story has great legs.

Kudos to the Globe for reopening this story, digging deep and persisting.

While the Toronto Star waits expectantly for the non-existent Ford video to emerge.

And the Star continues to go easy on Premier Wynne, and pretends that this devastating and potentially government-ending deletion of emails scandal, is a non-story.

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