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In the immortal phrase of the fictional lawyer Jackie Chiles of Seinfeld fame, Dalton McGuinty was egregious, outlandish, disingenuous and outrageous.
The former Ontario premier was appearing for a second star turn Tuesday before the all-party legislative committee probing the gas plants fiasco of his government.
(The controversial plants in Oakville and Mississauga were abruptly cancelled, the latter announced as a Liberal party campaign promise, and the costs — at least $585-million is the best estimate — consistently downplayed and lowballed by the government.)
If possible, McGuinty the private citizen is more arrogant, less forthcoming and more hypocritical than the politician McGuinty. He was asked back in the wake of a withering report earlier this month from the province’s Information and Privacy Commissioner, Ann Cavoukian.
Sparked by a complaint from New Democrat MPP Peter Tabuns, who is also the most effective questioner on the committee, the probe revealed that senior political staff in Mr. McGuinty’s office were routinely deleting all emails in what she found was likely an attempt to avoid scrutiny.
Dr. Cavoukian herself appeared at the committee just before Mr. McGuinty.
She was there to answer questions and rebut testimony last week from the former premier’s chief of staff, Chris Morley, to the effect that there were so many rules telling staff to press delete that he counted 99 separate ones and golly, how was a body to keep track of it all?
In very neutral language, Dr. Cavoukian showed that Mr. Morley’s 99 rules are a crock. They boil down to far fewer, she said, and there are actually only four categories of records that need not be maintained and there is, anyway, no mandatory requirement to delete any of them.
“It is called the Archives and Record-Keeping Act,” Dr. Cavoukian noted dryly, “not Record-Deleting Act.”
Her point was that the legislative thrust is on document retention, not deletion, and anyone with half a wit would and should have known that.
A casual exchange with Mr. Tabuns towards the end of Dr. Cavoukian’s testimony nicely illustrates that ordinary common practice is the opposite of the McGuinty senior ranks.
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