OPP probing missing wind farm contract documents

The ongoing lawsuit by Trillium Power, whose contract was suddenly cancelled by the McGuinty government, has revealed a “hole” in Ontario government records.

Ontario Provincial Police

Photo: PostMedia

Ottawa Citizen, May 4, 2016

David Reevely EXCLUSIVE

The Ontario Provincial Police has launched another investigation into allegations that provincial government officials illegally destroyed documents concerning an aborted contract to supply electricity to the provincial grid.

This time, it’s a green-energy contract with a company that builds wind farms.

A previous investigation into the disappearance of files, in the last days of Dalton McGuinty’s premiership, about the decisions to cancel two gas-fired generating stations has already led to charges against McGuinty’s then-chief of staff, David Livingston, and his deputy, Laura Miller. They are charged with breach of trust, mischief in relation to data and misuse of a computer system. Both of them deny any wrongdoing and are awaiting trial. McGuinty himself was never the subject of any investigation.

This investigation is new.

“An investigation was launched after allegations were made by a third-party vendor, Trillium Power Energy Corp.,” OPP Det.-Supt. David Truax said in response to questions from this newspaper. The vendor made a formal complaint and the police examined it and found it worthy of a full exploration, which has been underway for a couple of weeks. Truax did not say whether the investigation had a specific target.

“The investigation is being led by a major-case manager from the criminal investigation branch of the OPP,” Truax said. “The investigative team will be comprised by members of the anti-rackets branch as well as the technological crime unit.”

Truax wouldn’t confirm any potential connection to the Livingston and Miller case. Trillium claims in its court filing that its project got caught up in the same electoral worry before the 2011 election that led the McGuinty government to cancel the two gas plants. Those two gas plants, in Oakville and in Mississauga, were locally unpopular and might have put Liberal-held seats at risk. Ultimately McGuinty won a third term with a minority.

The cost of the gas-plant cancellations ballooned from an early estimate of $40 million to about $1 billion, according to the provincial auditor general, once you factor in all the ripple effects.

Trillium’s allegation against the government arose in the middle of a gigantic civil lawsuit it filed over a moratorium the government put on wind-energy projects on the Great Lakes in early 2011. Trillium was working on five such projects, including one in Lake Ontario, more than 25 kilometres off Kingston, that would have been the biggest in Canada.

The company was on the brink of signing a financing deal when the province decided to halt all such projects for further scientific study. The company sued for $2.25 billion, alleging that the decision was political, not scientific, meant to appease voters living close to completely separate wind projects on Lake Huron and Lake Erie.

As it sought documents from the provincial government to build its case, Trillium’s lawyer Morris Cooper said in an interview, Trillium found a hole in the archives where documents related to Trillium’s contract with the province should have been.

“We discovered that in fact the documents that one would expect from the premier’s office or the cabinet office were not there,” Cooper said. “We noticed the pattern was they were only produced if other ministries were on the paper trail.”

Ultimately the courts threw out most of Trillium’s legal claims; the government has a lot of freedom to make and change policy decisions, even if people suffer as a result. But a claim for $500 million in damages from “misfeasance in public office” remains (over allegations the government deliberately timed its moratorium on Great Lakes wind projects to ruin Trillium so badly it couldn’t afford to sue) and now Trillium has added one for “spoliation,” destroying documents relevant to the case. Neither has been tried in court yet.

The government compensated the builders for the gas plants it cancelled. It didn’t compensate Trillium. The company filed its lawsuit in September 2011.

In defending itself against Trillium’s civil case, the government filed court papers saying that no files related to the deal were “intentionally” destroyed.

Cooper alleged that Trillium-related documents disappeared in February 2013 at the same time as the files relating to the decision to cancel the gas plants.

The investigation that led to the Livingston and Miller charges took the OPP’s anti-rackets branch 2 1/2 years. This one is just getting started.

“This type of investigation will involve the interviewing of witnesses, involved persons. It will involve an extensive review of documentation, both in electronic and hardcopy formats. I’m not able to speculate how long it might take to conduct this kind of investigation,” Truax said.

Read the full story here.

Comments

Sommer
Reply

“The investigative team will be comprised by members of the anti-rackets branch as well as the technological crime unit.”

I’m glad to see that the “anti-rackets” crime unit will be involved.

whooper
Reply

Why would the liberal government afford lake projects “further scientific study” when they have no qualms in continuing to place IWTs 550 m. from homes onshore? If the liberals are intent on further destruction, there should be a referendum requiring all additional turbines be placed in the lake beginning 550 m. from Toronto where the power is needed and in close proximity to the folks supporting this insanity. They can utilize this large population to “further scientifically study” negative health impacts on humans.

Lynda
Reply

‘they were charged with mischief’. Whoa, that should get them a couple of hours of community service helping out in the food bank. As usual, the ‘boss’ never gets so much as a phone call. Who signs the paycheques??

ScepticalGord
Reply

This is one of those cases where I wish both sides of this legal battle would beat the crap out of each other and leave no one standing.

Leave a comment

name*

email* (not published)

website