The executive director of the B.C. Liberal party declined to co-operate with an Ontario police investigation into the destruction of documents in the office of the former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty because police would not assure her that her comments would not be used against her, says her lawyer.
Laura Miller's lawyer told The Globe and Mail on Thursday that his client was ready to talk to the Ontario Provincial Police last September – the month she started her duties with the B.C. Liberals after a career in politics that included roles as chief operating officer for the Ontario Liberal Party and a now-scrutinized stint as deputy chief of staff to Mr. McGuinty.
But Brian Shiller said the possibility fell apart because the OPP could not provide any assurances that they would not use Ms. Miller's own comments against her. Without such protection, Mr. Shiller said he would not let his client talk to police.
Ms. Miller's situation has become a political issue in B.C. where the opposition NDP says Premier Christy Clark should be ordering Ms. Miller, as a senior official in her Liberal party, to co-operate with police, reflecting a public expectation that those associated with public officials be open and transparent.
But Mr. Shiller said his client has not avoided police. "It is entirely factually inaccurate to say Laura refused to co-operate with the police," he said.
In a subsequent e-mail exchange with The Globe and Mail, Mr. Shiller said the OPP has sporadically approached him about Ms. Miller, who is willing to co-operate depending on the terms.
"Laura has always been willing to co-operate. Unfortunately, the OPP has been entirely inconsistent in their approach to such an interview. Laura sees it as appropriate to co-operate with the OPP because she has nothing to hide and has always been willing to provide any information to assist the investigation. Unfortunately, the OPP has gone public with the false statement, under oath, no less, that Laura refused to co-operate. That statement is patently false."
The OPP is investigating the alleged purging of documents in the office of Mr. McGuinty related to cancelled gas 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.
In allegations that have not been tested in court, police allege, in documents, 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.
Ms. Miller is among several former Ontario Liberals who have come west for key assignments with the B.C. Liberals, including Ben Chin, Ms. Clark's director of communications who was a former adviser to Mr. McGuinty, and Don Guy, a one-time chief of staff for Mr. McGuinty, who offered Ms. Clark advice in the 2013 election campaign that saw the B.C. Liberals stage a come-from-behind victory over the B.C. NDP.
Ms. Clark, asked about the current situation, has described Ms. Miller as a person of the "utmost integrity" B.C. Liberals are lucky to have on their team. In a statement, party president Sharon White noted Ms. Miller is not the target of the investigation, and that the allegations are unproven. "Here in B.C., Laura has done an outstanding job in her capacity as executive director, and I look forward to her continued good efforts."
Ms. Miller has been the author of chatty occasional updates from party headquarters referencing the French electronic music duo Daft Punk, on one occasion, as she also cheers developments on the legislative side and in such behind-the-scenes matters as the overhaul of the party website and mobile payment options for party functions. She also takes jabs at the B.C. NDP, noting at one point that leadership prospects "continue to drop like flies"
On Thursday, OPP Detective Constable André Duval told an Ontario legislature committee hearing Ms. Miller was among four individuals who have refused to co-operate with police. The others were Mr. Livingston, Mr. Faist and Mr. Livingston's assistant, Wendy Wai.
"To my knowledge, as of today April 3, 2014, she has declined to provide a statement to the OPP investigators," said Det. Constable Duval.