Ontario Provincial Police made headlines last week when they sought documents from Queen’s Park staff as part of their investigation into gas plant emails.
Global News and several other media organizations have been trying to get the informations police filed to obtain those production orders and get the documents.
But no luck so far, and not because of a secretive sealing order.
The court documents are unsealed, which is unusual: Often, it can take weeks or months of negotiation between Crown, defence and media lawyers before these documents see the light of day – even though they should be public by default.
This time, the holdup’s administrative: The documents will be available once police file paperwork cataloguing the information they got – and that likely won’t happen until June 19, a week after Thursday’s election. (Queen’s Park staff were given 10 days to produce the required documentation)
“This is the way it should be: It should be inaccessible for a short time, for practical reasons, and then it should be unsealed,” said lawyer Iain MacKinnon, who is acting on the news organizations’ behalf.
“It was actually kind of a pleasant surprise. … It is unusual, yes, but unusual in a good way.”
IN DEPTH: Ontario election 2014
The gas plant scandal has been a recurring theme of this election, as Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak and NDP leader Andrea Horwath have slammed Premier Kathleen Wynne over the way the plants’ costly last-minute cancellation in 2011 was handled and disclosed. Wynne, for her part, has emphasized that this was her predecessor Dalton McGuinty”s decision and that she’s really sorry – but she’s had trouble changing the channel to focus on her solutions to present challenges facing the province.
Last week’s OPP document search at Queen’s Park put the issue into the public mind all over again and prompted the Liberals to emphasize that no one in Wynne’s office or her cabinet is under investigation.
Whatever police were looking for, voters will have to make up their minds not knowing precisely what it was.Follow @amp6