Timeline: What led to charges in the Ontario gas plants scandal

A general view taken on Sunday, May 18, 2014 of remains of the 800-megawatt gas-fired power plant in Mississauga which had it's construction canceled by the then-Liberal Government of Ontario, prior to the provincial general election of 2011.
A general view taken on Sunday, May 18, 2014 of remains of the 800-megawatt gas-fired power plant in Mississauga which had it's construction canceled by the then-Liberal Government of Ontario, prior to the provincial general election of 2011. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

TORONTO – The Ontario Provincial Police filed criminal charges Thursday against two top aides to former premier Dalton McGuinty after a police investigation into deleted government emails about the cancelled gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga.

David Livingston, 63, and Laura Miller, 36, were charged with breach of trust, mischief in relation to data, and misuse of a computer system. They are scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 27.

Livingston, McGuinty’s last chief of staff, and Miller, McGuinty’s last deputy chief of staff, were charged after a lengthy investigation into deleted hard drives involving the two gas plants cancelled ahead of the 2011 provincial election.

READ MORE: 2 former Liberal staffers charged in Ontario gas plants scandal

A report from auditor general Bonnie Lysyk later found the cancellations and moving the plants could cost up to $1.1 billion over 20 years.

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Here’s a look at the key events that led to Thursday’s formal charges in the Ontario gas plants cancellation scandal:

October 7, 2010: Ontario Government announces cancellation of the proposed Oakville gas-fired power plant.

Sept 28, 2011: In middle of the Ontario election campaign, Liberal candidate Charles Sousa quietly announces plan to scrap a partially built gas plant in Mississauga, but construction continues on the project for another two months.

The Cancelled Gas Plants: Click here for ongoing coverage

Oct. 6, 2011: Liberals fall one seat short of third majority government, but save all their seats in the Mississauga-Oakville area where two gas plants were cancelled.

Nov. 21, 2011: The government announces Greenfield South Power would stop construction on the Mississauga gas plant, which was 30 per cent complete by then.

July 16, 2012: Liberals announce decision to stop construction on the Mississauga gas plant project and relocate it to Sarnia area will cost $190 million.

Former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty speaks in Toronto on June 25, 2012.
Former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty speaks in Toronto on June 25, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS

Sept. 14, 2012: Premier Dalton McGuinty tells legislature the government doesn’t want to release all the gas plant documents until it completes negotiations to compensate developers of the cancelled projects.

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Sept 24, 2012: Energy Minister Chris Bentley announces deal with TransCanada Energy to relocate the proposed natural gas plant from Oakville to an Ontario Power Generation site in Bath, near Kingston. He claims total cost of cancelling Oakville plant is $40 million.

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Sept. 26, 2012: Contempt motion starts nasty and, at times, personal debate that grinds all other legislative business to a halt for over a week.

Oct 15, 2012: McGuinty suddenly announces plan to resign as premier and prorogues the legislature until February to allow for a cooling off period after the bitter contempt debate, and to give the Liberals time to pick a new leader.

Jan. 26, 2013: Kathleen Wynne wins Liberal leadership race.

Feb. 7, 2013: Premier-designate Wynne asks auditor general to investigate costs of cancelling Oakville gas plant in addition to looking into Mississauga project.

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Feb. 19, 2013: Legislature resumes sitting. Progressive Conservatives revive contempt of Parliament charge against the Liberals over cancelled gas plants, which died when McGuinty prorogued the legislature in October.

Feb. 28, 2013: Premier Wynne expands mandate of justice committee “to look at the tendering, planning, commissioning, cancellation, and relocation of the Mississauga and Oakville gas plants.”

April 15, 2013: Auditor General Jim McCarter reports decision to scrap gas plant in Mississauga will cost at least $275 million, $85 million more than the Liberals had been claiming.

May 7, 2013: McGuinty tells legislature’s justice committee he made the decisions to scrap the Oakville and Mississauga gas plants, and did so without knowing what it would ultimately cost.

May 15, 2013: Wynne apologizes for way the government cancelled the gas plants,admitting mistakes were made.

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June 5, 2013: Ontario’s privacy commissioner rules top Liberal staff in McGuinty’s office broke the law by deleting all emails related to the cancellation of the two gas plants.

June 7, 2013: Ontario Provincial Police launch criminal investigation into the destruction of emails involving the cancellation of two gas plants by senior Liberal staff.

Aug. 20, 2013: Privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian says staff in Premier Kathleen Wynne’s cabinet “misled the public“‘ about ability to recover deleted emails related to the cancelled gas plants.

Oct. 8, 2013: Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk estimates cost of cancelling the Oakville gas plant at between $675 million and $815 million. Total cost of cancelling plants in Oakville and Mississauga rises to between $950 million and almost $1.1 billion.

Mar. 27, 2014: OPP allege David Livingston, McGuinty’s last chief of staff, hired Peter Faist, the partner of Laura Miller, to wipe clean government hard drives that contained information about the gas plant scandal. Police say the hard drives will provide “evidence” of breach of trust.

June. 12, 2014. Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals win a majority of seats in the legislature, allowing Wynne to continue as premier and moving her mandate from a minority to majority government.

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June. 17, 2014: Information and Privacy Commissioner Ann Cavoukian urges the new Liberal government to push for stronger laws requiring political staff and bureaucrats to preserve records in the wake of the $1.1-billion gas plants scandal.

Nov. 27, 2014: The Ontario Provincial Police anti-racket squad executes a new search warrant in its investigation of deleted emails at government IT offices.

Feb. 17, 2015: Ontario’s opposition parties say the Liberal’s whitewashed a legislative committee report into the deletion of government emails on two cancelled gas plants. The committee began hearings into the destruction of gas plant documents in Feb. 2013 when the Progressive Conservatives and NDP had control because the Liberals were in a minority government.

Nov. 2,1 2015: Former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty wrote in his autobiography that moving the gas plants was the “right thing to do.” While the opposition saw the decision as a “flip-flop,” McGuinty said what “mattered to me was that I had made the correct call.”

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Dec. 17, 2015: Livingston and Miller are charged by the OPP with one count each of breach of trust, mischief in relation to data and misuse of a computer system to commit the offense of mischief.

*With files from the Canadian Press


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