Aide takes stand in gas plant trial
Master list of computers to be wiped came from defendant Miller, court hears
The master list of 20 computers wiped in the McGuinty premier’s office came from deputy chief of staff Laura Miller, her former executive assistant told the judge presiding over Miller’s deleted documents trial Monday.
Alexandra Gair said she was the person who signed computer consultant Peter Faist, Miller’s common-law spouse, into the premier’s office to clear hard drives in February 2013 before Kathleen Wynne took power.
Gair had the list of workstations and escorted Faist to desks in the premier’s offices in the main legislative building and across the street at the Whitney Block.
“I was told to meet Pete, Peter, at one of the entrances,” Gair said at the criminal trial of Miller and former McGuinty chief of staff David Livingston.
“Mr. Faist was there to clear the hard drives of the computers . . . not the shared drives.”
Crown attorney Sarah Egan then asked Gair where she got the list of names for staff whose computers were to be cleared.
“It would have come from Ms. Miller,” replied Gair, who no longer works at Queen’s Park.
Faist testified Friday that he knew which workstations to go to because Gair had a list on a “yellow sticky note,” but said he didn’t know where that list originated.
Miller and Livingston have pleaded not guilty to breach of trust, mischief in relation to data and misuse of a computer system.
Court has heard Livingston sought a special password to clear desktops of personal information.
At the time of the alleged offences, McGuinty had resigned with his minority government under legal or- ders from a legislative committee to reveal documents on the controversial cancellations of two gas-fired power plants in Oakville and Mississauga before the 2011 election.
Under cross-examination from Miller lawyer Scott Hutchison, Gair confirmed the premier’s office staff on the list were leaving their jobs as power transitioned to Wynne following a Liberal leadership convention.
“People that were staying were not having their computers cleared,” Hutchison said. “That’s right,” Gair replied. Gair testified that in addition to escorting Faist from one computer to the next, she also ended up helping clear the hard drives of some desktops — a job that Faist was paid almost $10,000 to do.
It was the last Friday before Wynne took office and there had been a snowstorm.
“I was one of the only staff in the office that day . . . I remember taking a phone call and there were some emails from Peter and Laura,” said Gair, who made it clear she was not pleased with the additional work.
“As a subordinate, I was uncomfortable with the task,” she added, noting she had many other duties to perform and was trying to find a new job at the time.
“As an (executive assistant) you do what you’re told.”
Gair said she does not know if Faist made any checks of files before they were wiped. “I can’t speak for Mr. Faist. I did not.”
Faist was not charged but signed an investigative assistance agreement with Ontario Provincial Police that means his statements to investigators cannot be used against him.
Gair also testified that she found the government’s own IT service often left her “frustrated” and considered Faist’s level of knowledge “different.” The trial continues Tuesday. McGuinty was not a subject of the investigation and has co-operated with police.