The IT expert swept up in a criminal probe into the alleged destruction of documents in former premier Dalton McGuinty’s office had contracts with both the government caucus and the Liberal Party – the latter of which was only terminated this past weekend.
The revelation was the largest bombshell to drop on a turbulent day in the deletions scandal engulfing the government. Premier Kathleen Wynne moved a step closer to suing Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak for accusing her of a role in “criminal” activity and the entire New Democratic caucus stormed out of the legislature when Ms. Wynne did not show up to answer questions on the scandal.
A company connected to Peter Faist, the boyfriend of former McGuinty staffer Laura Miller, was paid $159,727.28 in taxpayer funds for work with the government caucus office from June, 2010, to January, 2013, the government said Monday. The company, Netcon1, also received $60,000 for “IT maintenance” from the Liberal Party from March, 2011, until Sunday.
Police documents unsealed last week revealed Mr. McGuinty’s chief of staff, David Livingston, is under investigation for allegedly bringing in Mr. Faist to wipe computers in the premier’s office before the transfer of power to Ms. Wynne last year.
Mr. McGuinty told The Globe and Mail he knew Mr. Faist “just socially,” and last saw him one or two years ago. Mr. McGuinty said he knew nothing of either the alleged deletions or Mr. Faist’s government contract.
“I didn’t see any of that,” he said in a rare telephone interview from Cambridge, Mass., where he is a fellow at Harvard University. “I was not aware of any activities associated with the allegations that were related to the computers and the deletion of e-mails or anything like that.”
Despite having a contract with the government caucus, Mr. Faist did not have one with the premier’s office, according to the police documents. Nor did he have the security clearance to be given virtually unlimited access to premier’s office computers.
Mr. Faist and Ms. Miller, who is now executive director of the British Columbia Liberal Party, have not responded to phone calls or e-mails seeking comment. B.C. Premier Christy Clark, who was in Ottawa Monday to discuss liquefied natural gas, defended Ms. Miller as “a person of absolutely sterling character.”
Ms. Wynne was not in the legislature to answer questions on the matter Monday, the first opportunity opposition parties had to grill her since the document was unsealed last Thursday. She was in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., for an announcement with Northern Affairs Minister Michael Gravelle, prompting the NDP to walk out.
“By refusing to face questions today about the Liberal gas-plant scandal, the Premier is making a mockery of accountability,” NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said before leading her caucus out the door.
Ms. Wynne’s tangle with Mr. Hudak was more serious. Defying a warning from Ms. Wynne, Mr. Hudak repeated his assertion from last week that Ms. Wynne was in charge when the deletions happened and not Mr. McGuinty. Ms. Wynne responded by having her lawyer send him a “cease-and-desist” letter, and threatened him with a lawsuit.
“I will continue to ask that the Leader of the Opposition and his caucus refrain from making allegations that are not true, that are unfounded, and making accusations that have absolutely no evidence to support them,” Ms. Wynne told reporters in Sault Ste. Marie.
Police allege the document destruction happened Feb. 6 and 7, 2013, before Ms. Wynne became premier. But Mr. Hudak maintains Mr. McGuinty was little more than a lame duck at the time as Ms. Wynne had already been chosen as his replacement.
With reports from Shawn McCarthy and Andrea Woo.