Duo named in OPP investigation of deleted gas plant documents agrees to appear before legislative committee
By: Rob Ferguson Queen’s Park Bureau, Published on Mon Apr 14 2014
A former Dalton McGuinty aide and her computer-savvy boyfriend named in an OPP search warrant application have agreed to testify before MPPs investigating deleted documents in the $1.1-billion gas plants scandal.
Lawyers for Laura Miller, who was deputy chief of staff to McGuinty, and Peter Faist said Monday their clients — who now live in British Columbia — will be available for the legislature’s justice committee next month.
“She appreciates the opportunity,” Miller lawyer Brian Shiller wrote in an email to the committee clerk, proposing she testify on May 8 in what would be her second appearance before MPPs.
“Laura also asks that I convey her sincere thanks to the committee for being flexible in scheduling a mutually convenient date and time.”
Only Miller is willing to appear in person to face questions on OPP claims that Faist was given a special password in early February 2013 by her boss, former McGuinty chief of staff David Livingston, to erase hard drives in the premier’s office.
Livingston is under investigation for breach of trust. The allegations have not been proven in court and no charges have been laid. Both Livingston and Faist, who was not a government employee but was a Liberal contractor until recently, have denied any wrongdoing.
Faist, who left Toronto late last month, will be available May 13 — but by videoconference, his lawyer David Shiller wrote in a letter to the committee
“As you may know, Mr. Faist now lives in British Columbia . . . . Please contact us so we can set up the mechanics of his videoconference appearance. Peter is looking forward to his appearance.”
That proposal runs afoul of New Democrat MPP Peter Tabuns, who last week warned he wants witnesses to appear in person.
“If Laura Miller can find a regularly scheduled flight to Toronto so can he,” Tabuns said Monday. “He was a central player. It’s far more effective when a person is there in front of you.”
The offers to testify follow warnings from MPPs that they would seek rare Speaker’s warrants to compel appearances if the pair would not come forward, even though they live in British Columbia, which is outside the jurisdiction of such warrants.
The proposed appearance by Miller, who is now executive director of the British Columbia Liberal Party, could conflict with a possible date for the minority Liberal government’s spring budget, which might also come May 1.
OPP computer experts are now examining 24 computer hard drives from the premier’s office, and allege Faist accessed a small number of them on Feb. 6 and 7, 2013, with a special password that was valid until March 20, 2013.
Premier Kathleen Wynne took power on Feb. 11, 2013.