Police documents unsealed by an Ottawa judge describe events during Dalton McGuinty's final days in office. The allegations contained in the documents, based on police interviews with government staffers and bureaucrats, have not been tested in court.
The Ontario Provincial Police anti-rackets branch is investigating the alleged deletion of government records after the controversial cancellation of the two electricity plants. The documents are in support of a search warrant to seize 24 computer hard drives stored at a Mississauga data centre. The chronology begins on Jan. 25, 2013 – the day before Kathleen Wynne succeeded Mr. McGuinty as Leader of the Liberal Party.
"Not business as usual"
On Jan. 25, Mr. McGuinty’s chief of staff David Livingston goes to cabinet secretary Peter Wallace, requesting access to desktop computers in the premier’s office. Mr. Wallace was concerned this was “not business as usual.”
"That's really stupid"
Some time before Jan. 30, Mr. Livingston tells Mr. Wallace’s executive assistant, Steen Hume, that he wants to have someone who is not a public service employee wipe clean hard drives during the transition to the Wynne government. Mr. Hume was not happy. “That’s really stupid,” he told police last fall. “It compromises the former Premier the integrity of his office.”
"Nothing penetrated my consciousness"
But Mr. Wallace told police Mr. Hume did not tell him Mr. Livingston wanted to use someone from outside the public service until after a meeting on Jan. 30, where Mr. Livingston’s request for access was discussed. Mr. Wallace told police he thought the idea was so outside normal procedure, he dismissed it, thinking Mr. Livingston must have just been venting about in-house IT staff.
“At the time, nothing penetrated my consciousness where I thought, oh my goodness, you know, they are stepping right outside of procedure here and I better go write them a memo,” Mr. Wallace told police last year. “Like I’m not going to write you a memo saying don’t do that, because you already know, don’t do that.”
"I wasn't comfortable"
On Jan. 30, Mr. Wallace meets with Mr. Hume, corporate chief information officer David Nicholl and three other bureaucrats to discuss Mr. Livingston’s request for special access to the computers. “I wasn’t comfortable with the notion of providing them with an unrestricted right to do whatever they wanted to with the computers,” Mr. Wallace told police.
Mr. Wallace and his staff agreed they should find out if anyone in the premier’s office already had access to the computers.
"An unusual request"
Immediately after the meeting on Jan. 30, Mr. Nicholl met with Thom Stenson, manager of information technology services for cabinet office, and Rolf Gitt, a senior analyst, and told them to go ahead and give Mr. Livingston administrative rights to the computers. Mr. Nicholl told them the request came directly from the premier’s office.
Mr. Stenson told police he had never received such a request in the 27 years he worked for the Ontario public service and that such a request is usually reserved for IT personnel. “That was an unusual request and uh I don’t think that’s done anywhere else in the OPS.”
"There was a precedent"
Also on Jan. 30, Mr. Nicholl tells Linda Jackson, chief administrative officer of corporate planning, that seven staffers in the premier’s office already had administrative access to computers. But he did not explain that he had requested more powerful access for Mr. Livingston that would allow him to alter and delete files on all the hard drives in the premier’s office, not just his own computer.
Mr. Wallace was never informed of the distinction between the access staff had and what Mr. Livingston wanted. When Mr. Wallace learned that seven people already had administrative access, he determined it was redundant to discuss Mr. Livingston’s request any further. “There was a precedent and any ground I would have to say no you can’t have that was gone,” he told police.
"I don't recall"
Mr. Nicholl told police that Mr. Hume told him on Jan. 31 to go ahead and provide the access to Mr. Livingston. Mr. Hume does not recall the conversation or granting the approval.
“So let’s be clear...I don’t recall an explicit direction to Dave Nicholl,” Mr. Hume told police.
"It is embarrassing"
Mr. Wallace’s legal counsel sends an e-mail to Mr. Nicholl on Jan. 31, explaining the importance of preserving government records. Mr. Nicholl forwards the e-mail to Mr. Livingston. Mr. Wallace was concerned about record keeping policies in the the premier’s office.
“It became apparent that they had a practice of no records ...and it is embarrassing,” Mr. Wallace told police.
"I didn't know anything"
On Feb. 4, information technology services set up access to all the computers in the premier’s office. Mr. Livingston told IT to give the password to his administrative assistant, Wendy Wai, whose knowledge of computers was limited, according to the documents.
“Mr. Nicholl gave me [some] sort of access but I didn’t know anything about what to do with it,” she told police last July before declining to talk further.
"The screen was black"
On Feb. 7, Lauren Ramey, an employee in the premier’s media office, is introduced to Peter Faist, who is described as the boyfriend of Laura Miller, Mr. Livingston’s deputy. Ms. Ramey watched Mr. Faist type something on her computer. Afterward, she was unable to log on. “I remember the screen was black,” Ms. Ramey told police. “I thought that was weird.”
That same day, Jason Lagerquist, another staffer in the premier’s office, told police a guy who identified himself as “Peter” told him he was going to do some work on his computer. Mr. Lagerquist was also unable to log on after and called IT for help.
Mr. Stenson from IT told police it was clear that files had been deleted from the two desktop computers. “You’ve just uh basically mucked with a computer to the point where it’s no longer functioning,” he said.
On Feb. 11, Ms. Wynne is sworn into office.
On March 19, Emily Marangoni, director of human resources in the premier’s office, tells Mr. Stenson in IT to remove the special administrative password assigned to Ms. Wai.
On Sept. 5, cabinet office asks the cyber security branch to conduct a forensic review to determine what hard drives were accessed using Ms. Wai’s password. It’s a reasonable investigative theory, says Detective Constable Duval, that Mr. Faist accessed 24 computers using Ms. Wai’s password.
Mr. Faist logged on to four computers in the premier’s office on Feb. 6 and Feb. 7, the documents allege. An investigator in cyber security branch was unable to determine when Mr. Faist logged on to the other 20 computers.
The special access expired on March 20.
Police say they believe Mr. Livingston committed a criminal breach of trust by granting unauthorized access to potentially sensitive documents and giving a non-government official permission to “wipe clean” computer hard drives. Mr. Faist never went through a background clearance, the documents allege.
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