Aide takes stand in gas plant trial

Mas­ter list of com­put­ers to be wiped came from de­fen­dant Miller, court hears

Toronto Star - - CANADA - ROB FER­GU­SON QUEEN’S PARK BUREAU

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.

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