Ex-McGuinty aide David Livingston a man of ‘great integrity,’ court told

Click to play video: 'David Livingston guilty in Ontario gas plants trial'
David Livingston guilty in Ontario gas plants trial
David Livingston, former chief of staff to former premier Dalton McGuinty, has been found guilty of destroying politically sensitive documents – Jan 20, 2018

TORONTO – The sentencing hearing for a former top Ontario political aide caught up in the province’s gas plants scandal heard glowing accounts of his character on Monday as the prosecution indicated it wanted him jailed for six months.

However, Ontario court Judge Timothy Lipson asked for submissions, to be heard later in the day, on whether house arrest would be an appropriate sentence for David Livingston, who faces sentencing on one count of illegal use of a computer.

The conviction – a second guilty finding was stayed Monday – was for Livingston’s illegal destruction of documents related to the Liberal government’s costly decision to cancel two gas plants before the 2011 provincial election.

READ MORE: Judge rules Ontario gas plants email trial should continue

Lipson wondered aloud whether Livingston, former chief of staff to ex-premier Dalton McGuinty, had occupied a “position of trust,” and whether his role was defined in legislation.

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Earlier in the day, dozens of people appeared in court or had their letters read to the court to show support for Livingston, among them relatives, business and political associates, and friends.

All praised his honesty and selfless dedication to the numerous public and private enterprises with which he has been associated over the decades.

“I always found Mr. Livingston to be open and honest,” said former Liberal politician Rick Bartolucci. “He was always a very honourable individual. I never observed a hidden agenda.”

Some choked back tears as they said the actions for which he was convicted were totally out of character for the man they knew.

READ MORE: Gas plants trial arguments come to a close; decision expected in January

Livingston’s wife of 40 years, Anne Grittani, who has consistently accompanied him to court, described how the charges had turned their lives upside down. They’ve had cameras thrust in their faces and had to listen to people denigrating him, she said.

“David has always done a lot of work for charities,” Grittani said. “David is the finest person I know. He’s a man of great character and integrity.”

Lipson found Livingston guilty last month of two counts: illegal use of a computer and attempted mischief to data.

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However, Monday’s proceedings began with Lipson staying the guilty finding on the attempted mischief charge at the defence’s request and with the agreement of the prosecution. The reason, defence lawyer Brian Gover explained, is that all the essential elements of the offence are included in the illegal use of a computer count.

The upshot is that Livingston will be convicted of one of the three charges police laid in 2013 against him and his deputy Laura Miller, who was acquitted last month.

An initial charge – breach of trust – was dropped against both accused at the outset of the trial.

The prosecution had previously said it wanted Livingston sent to jail.

“The course of conduct underlying Livingston’s guilt was a planned and deliberate attempt to destroy retainable records by a sophisticated government actor in a very senior position of public trust and authority,” the prosecution said in a written submission. “Such a person must be held to a high standard. The public is entitled to expect nothing less.”

The defence has countered that jail would be outrageous for a first-time offender with an otherwise unblemished record.

Dylan Moscovitch, who won a silver medal in team figure skating at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, said Livingston had been a financial and moral supporter and mentor.

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“I know David to be an honest, kind and compassionate person,” Moscovitch said in court. “Not once have I heard anything but positivity spoken about his character and integrity.”

The hearing continues with prosecutor Tom Lemon set to make his case for a jail term.


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