Police obtained a search warrant in connection with the alleged deletion of e-mail records after determining they had reasonable grounds to believe a crime had been committed, a legislative committee probing the cancellation of two Ontario power plants was told.
In order to get the courts to approve the warrant, Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner Chris Lewis said on Thursday, there would have to be reasonable grounds of a crime.
This was the first time the Commissioner has testified at the committee since the OPP launched a probe into the deletion of e-mail records last summer.
The OPP executed a search warrant last week at Recall, a Mississauga data storage company used by the government to keep backup files.
Mr. Lewis said information obtained by police through interviews with 20 individuals so far helped persuade the courts to issue the warrant. The document remains sealed, he said. He told reporters he does not know whether former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty was among those interviewed by police.
The OPP also visited the offices of Mr. McGuinty’s successor, Premier Kathleen Wynne, last November. But no warrant was used for that visit, Mr. Lewis said, describing it as a “familiarization” tour.
Police notified Ms. Wynne’s staff ahead of time that they planned to visit the offices after hours and there was full co-operation.
“We didn’t just show up,” he told the committee.
He told reporters police spent a couple of hours at the Premier’s office but that no documents were searched or seized. “They weren’t exactly crawling under the desks,” he said.
Mr. Lewis could not say how long it will take police to complete their investigation, but noted that the OPP has a considerable backlog of cases. In the electronic crimes unit alone, he said the backlog is two years. “It’s a juggling act.”
There were many questions he declined to answer, simply stating he does not know. But he also noted that it is highly unusual for a police Commissioner to testify while his officers are still conducting their investigation.