What­ever trial ver­dict, pub­lic has own views

The Daily Observer - - OPINION -

With On­tario Court Judge Timothy Lip­son rul­ing Thurs­day that the trial of two se­nior po­lit­i­cal aides to for­mer On­tario premier Dal­ton McGuinty in con­nec­tion with the gas plants scan­dal will con­tinue, some per­spec­tive is in or­der.

Whether David Liv­ingston and Laura Miller are guilty on the re­main­ing charges they face of at­tempt­ing to com­mit mis­chief (which Lip­son down­graded from mis­chief ) and il­le­gal use of a com­puter, re­gard­ing the de­struc­tion of govern­ment doc­u­ments, is the judge’s de­ci­sion.

The Crown pre­vi­ously with­drew the most se­ri­ous charge, breach of trust, say­ing there was no rea­son­able prospect of con­vic­tion.

Lip­son re­jected a de­fence mo­tion call­ing for a di­rected ver­dict on the re­main­ing charges — sim­i­lar to what hap­pened in the Sud­bury by-elec­tion bribery trial. In that case, the de­fence mo­tion was suc­cess­ful.

In this case, Lip­son said there’s enough ev­i­dence to sug­gest it’s pos­si­ble the de­fen­dants are guilty of the charges.

This doesn’t mean Liv­ingston and Miller will au­to­mat­i­cally be con­victed, just that the case against them can pro­ceed.

That said, On­tar­i­ans have a right to ex­pect a higher stan­dard of con­duct from their govern­ment than that se­nior On­tario Lib­er­als are not con­victed of break­ing the law.

The vot­ers will get to de­liver their ver­dict in the June elec­tion.”

The stan­dard of proof in these tri­als, where the lib­erty of the ac­cused is at stake, is “proof be­yond a rea­son­able doubt.” It is rightly set high to pro­tect the in­no­cent.

But it in no way, in­clud­ing in the ab­sence of con­vic­tions, pre­vents any­one from hav­ing and ex­press­ing an opin­ion about how our Lib­eral govern­ment be­haved in both these cases.

In our view, the ac­tions of On­tario’s Lib­eral govern­ment over two ad­min­is­tra­tions per­tain­ing to the gas plants and Sud­bury by-elec­tion controversies were ap­palling.

They were the an­tithe­sis of ev­ery prom­ise the Lib­er­als made in their 14 years in power to run an open and trans­par­ent govern­ment, and to spend our money wisely and ju­di­ciously.

The guilt or in­no­cence of the ac­cused is up to the courts.

Whether what the Lib­er­als did was wrong is up to the pub­lic to de­cide, and the vot­ers will get to de­liver their ver­dict in the June elec­tion.

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