An Ontario legislature committee wants to question the executive director of the B.C. Liberal Party about her role in a $1.1-billion gas-plant scandal that is shaking the Ontario Liberal government.
An NDP member on the committee cranked up the pressure on Laura Miller to testify by appealing directly to B.C. Premier Christy Clark. In an open letter to Ms. Clark on Friday, Peter Tabuns asks that Ms. Miller be given time away from her political duties in B.C. to testify before Ontario’s Standing Committee on Justice.
“We want all obstacles to be cleared out of the way so that Ms. Miller can come back to Ontario and testify,” Mr. Tabuns told reporters at Queen’s Park on Friday. “I would think a Premier would respect another province’s rule of law and want to see it respected by her staff.”
Since last September, Ms. Miller – a former deputy to the chief of staff to ex-Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty – has been the executive director of the B.C. Liberals, with various administrative responsibilities for the governing party, re-elected to a fourth majority mandate last May under the leadership of Ms. Clark.
“In the interest of getting answers for Ontarians about the waste of over $1-billion in this gas plants scandal, Ms. Miller is being called to testify to Ontario’s Standing Committee on Justice,” Mr. Tabuns writes.
Premier Clark’s office declined comment on the situation, referring the matter to the party.
Party president Sharon White was dismissive of Mr. Tabuns’s request.
“From here, it looks like they are gearing up for an election. I’m not going to comment on their politicking,” she said in a statement. “I will say that if Laura decides to attend committee in another province, it will be her own decision.”
Ms. Miller’s lawyer, Brian Shiller, responded in a letter to the clerk of the committee on Friday, saying his client remains “ready, willing and able” to assist the committee, as long as her constitutional rights are respected.
Mr. Shiller also objected to the testimony of Ontario Provincial Police Detective Constable André Duval, who told the committee four individuals, including Ms. Miller, have refused to talk to police.
Det. Constable Duval’s testimony was “completely false,” Mr. Shiller says in the letter. Mr. Shiller said he told police Ms. Miller would talk to them as long as nothing she said would be used against her. The police did not provide such assurances, his letter says.
The OPP are conducting a criminal investigation into the alleged purging of documents in the office of Mr. McGuinty following the cancellation of two gas-fired power plants.
Police documents unsealed by an Ontario judge last week allege that Mr. McGuinty’s former chief of staff, David Livingston, obtained extraordinary access to computer hard drives in the premier’s office for a six-week period. Ms. Miller was Mr. Livingston’s deputy.
In documents that have not been tested in court, police allege that Peter Faist, an IT professional and the boyfriend of Ms. Miller, logged onto four computers in the premier’s office on Feb. 6 and Feb. 7 last year.
Mr. Tabuns noted in his letter that the committee heard testimony this week from an OPP investigator indicating that Ms. Miller has not been interviewed by provincial-police investigators. “As you may be aware, the [OPP] Anti-Rackets investigator’s warrants indicate Ms. Miller and her partner Peter Faist have critical information about the wiping of computers in the Premier’s Office,” writes Mr. Tabuns.
“Given that [OPP Detective Constable Andre Duval] was clear that Ms. Miller has not provided any sort of statement to investigators, we now have a strong reason to believe that important information pertaining to the Liberal gas plant scandal and cover up has not yet been shared.
Mr. Tabuns told reporters he believes that Ms. Miller could provide the committee with details on dates and times when her boyfriend allegedly had access to computers in the premier’s office.
OPP Detective Constable André Duval testified this week that they believe Mr. Faist logged on to a total of 24 computers in the premier’s office. While the special access was in place until March 20, 2013, Det. Constable Duval said police do not know when documents were allegedly deleted on 20 of the 24 computers.
The clerk of the legislative committee also sent a formal request to Mr. Faist this week, asking him to testify on April 10. Mr. Faist’s lawyer, David Shiller (brother of Brian Shiller), said in an interview “that’s just not going to work.”
Asked if Mr. Faist, who moved to British Columbia from Toronto on the weekend, is willing to testify at a later date, Mr. Shiller said, “he’s going to take legal advice on that issue and then decide whether he’s going to do it or not.”
In a prepared statement, Mr. Shiller said Mr. Faist’s move to B.C. has been in the works for six months.
“Peter has done absolutely nothing wrong, and is a man of integrity,” he said.