Ontario’s Progressive Conservatives are calling on the province’s information and privacy commissioner to investigate allegations from Trillium Power that documents relevant to a $500-million lawsuit against the government of Ontario were destroyed by officials from within former-Premier Dalton McGuinty’s office.
The call to investigate comes a day after Global News reported on new evidence that Trillium Power says shows that officials from within McGuinty’s office and the office of the minister of energy engaged in the deliberate destruction of documents after their court case had begun.
The company says this was done to prevent it from being able to argue its claims in court and to erase information that may have been damaging to the government.
“In light of recent media reports, I am writing to you today asking that you investigate the actions of the Premier’s Office in relation to the alleged deletion of documents relating to the Trillium Power Wind Corporation’s $500 million lawsuit against the Ontario Government,” wrote Vic Fedeli, a PC MPP and leader the opposition, in a letter obtained exclusively by Global News.
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“The evidence presented by [Trillium] is eerily reminiscent of the gas plants deleted documents scandal,” Fedeli wrote. “The people of Ontario have been through this song and dance before. It appears, as in the past, the Liberals’ general approach to issues management has been delete and delete again.”
Government lawyers and spokespeople deny Trillium’s allegations outright.
In its statement of defence — presented as part of the ongoing lawsuit between Trillium and the government — lawyers for the Ministry of the Attorney General state firmly that no documents related to Trillium’s case were “deliberately destroyed” by government officials.
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The lawyers also say Trillium’s allegations that the project was sidelined in favour of another project — that of Windstream Energy — are entirely untrue.
In response to allegations that officials from within the office of the ministry of energy engaged in the destruction of documents prior to March 2013, a spokesperson for Ontario’s current Minister of Energy, Glenn Thibeault, said the allegations have been investigated and proven to be untrue.
“In 2016, Trillium requested that the OPP investigate their allegations related to the moratorium on wind energy. Those allegations were thoroughly investigated and found to be unsubstantiated,” said Colin Nekolaichuk, the government spokesperson.
With respect to maintaining documents, Nekolaichuk said the government is committed to being open and transparent, and has taken action to strengthen the laws related to record keeping — working closely with provincial watchdogs to ensure the government follows best practices.
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But John Kourtoff, CEO and owner of Trillium Power, alleges internal emails provided by the government in the lead up to the trial clearly show an intention to destroy evidence.
In legal documents, the Trillium references one such email, alleging it proves the government gave codenames to files related to offshore wind — making them more difficult to find when sifting through large volumes of records — and discussed plans to “purge emails, records, documents.”
The long-awaited Trillium trial is set to begin June 11 — four days after the provincial election — and is scheduled to last for three weeks.
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