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A man is photographed leaving Premier Dalton McGuinty's office at Queens Park on Oct 16 2012. (Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)
A man is photographed leaving Premier Dalton McGuinty's office at Queens Park on Oct 16 2012. (Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail)

McGuinty said chief of staff was in charge of records Add to ...

Former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty told police investigating the destruction of documents in his office that his chief of staff was responsible for managing the records.

Communication in his office was overwhelmingly verbal, with no written records of meetings, Mr. McGuinty told police, according to court documents released on Friday that also shed new light on the IT expert swept up in the criminal probe.

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"We rarely exchanged, if ever, written arguments against each other," Mr. McGuinty told the Ontario Provincial Police, according to a partial transcript contained in the court documents of his interview on April 15. "Our practice was to hash these things out in person."

Mr. McGuinty, who declined to be audio recorded, is not under investigation. He told police his chief of staff was ultimately responsible for all of the activities that took place in his office.

The OPP believe Mr. McGuinty's former chief of staff, David Livingston, committed a criminal breach of trust for allegedly bringing in a non government employee to wipe computers in the premier's office before the transfer of power to Kathleen Wynne last year.

Mr. Livingston has said through his lawyer that he did nothing wrong.

The OPP filed the documents to request a court order for visitor logs to the provincial legislature that mention Peter Faist, the IT expert retained to purge documents as part of a plan to manage the fallout from the controversial cancellation of two power plants.

Mr. Faist, the boyfriend of Laura Miller, Mr. Livingston’s former deputy, used U.S. military software to permanently delete all the data on computers in the premier’s office while leaving the operating system intact, the documents allege. The software, known as WhiteCanyon, is  commonly used by the U.S. Department of Defense.

Mr. Faist gained access to the computers using a special global password assigned to Mr. Livingston’s assistant, the documents allege. McGuinty told police that he did not direct Mr. Livingston to seek the special password.

The documents contain interviews with two former employees in Mr. McGuinty’s office who saw Mr. Faist in their office with Ms. Miller.

Rebecca Mackenzie, one of the former employees, told police she returned to her office on Feb. 7, 2013 – four days before Ms. Wynne was sworn in as Mr. McGuinty’s successor – to gather her personal belongings.

Ms. Miller asked Ms. Mackenzie to log on to her computer. She observed Mr. Faist insert a CD-ROM into it, the documents allege, and was advised not to touch her machine while the software was running.

Neala Barton, Ms. Mackenzie’s supervisor, asked Ms. Miller if Cabinet Office was aware of what they were doing, the documents allege. The response: “yes.”

Ms. Wynne’s office has revealed that Mr. Faist had contracts with both the government caucus and the Liberal Party - the latter of which was only terminated in March after his name was initially linked to the purge of records. A company connected to Mr. Faist was paid $159,727.28 in taxpayer funds for work with the government caucus office from June, 2010, to January, 2013, the government has said. The company, Netcon1, also received $60,000 for "IT maintenance" from the Liberal Party.

The newly-released documents reveal that it was Ms. Miller who awarded the contract to her boyfriend when she was executive director of the Ontario Liberal Party in 2010. Mr. Faist did not have to compete for the contract. Simon Tunstall, executive director of the Ontario Liberal Party, said it is common for the party to sole source work to people they know, including friends and family members, according to the documents.

Mr. Tunstall told police he did not see a conflict of interest with Ms. Miller hiring her boyfriend.

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.

Premier Wynne promised on Friday that hearings into the cancelled gas plants will resume. Ms. Miller, who now works for the B.C. Liberal Party, was scheduled to testify last month. But the hearings were suspended after the writ was dropped for the election campaign.

Follow on Twitter: @kahowlett

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