News / Vancouver

BC Liberal executive director resigns after criminal charges in Ontario

Laura Miller steps down from BC Liberal Party after being charged in connection to Ontario government email scandal.

The British Columbia Legislature.

The Canadian Press

The British Columbia Legislature.

The executive director of the BC Liberal Party resigned Thursday after being criminally charged in connection to an Ontario government gas plant scandal.

Laura Miller, 36, is facing charges of breach of trust, mischief in relation to data, and misuse of computer system to commit the offense of mischief in connection with the deletion of government documents, according to Ontario Provincial Police.

Miller was deputy chief to former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty before being hired by Premier Christy Clark’s BC Liberal Party.

McGuinty’s former chief of staff, David Livingston has also been charged.

The charges follow a lengthy OPP investigation into the destruction of thousands of emails on the Liberals' decision to cancel two gas plants prior to the 2011 election, which the auditor general found will cost ratepayers up to $1.1 billion.

Documents released during the police investigation last February showed Livingston and Miller compiled a list of senior Liberal staffers in the then-premier's office whose computers would be purged.

They hired Miller's partner, Peter Faist, to wipe clean dozens of the hard drives on a weekend.

The OPP said the force will not comment further on the evidence “in order to protect the integrity of the investigation and the ensuing court process.”

Following the charges, Miller took to Twitter to announce that she’s stepping down from the BC Liberal Party as she prepares “to vigorously defend myself back in Ontario.”

In a written statement, Miller alleged misconduct on the part of the investing officers, saying they “misrepresented my actions” and that her subsequent complaint to the Ontario Independent Police Review Director “created a clear bias by the OPP against me.”

“After formally complaining about the conduct of the OPP in the way they acted during their investigation into document retention, I find myself being charged,” Miller wrote.

Livingston and Miller are scheduled to make their first court appearances in Toronto on Jan. 27, 2016.

Clark released a statement Thursday saying Miller is “known to her colleagues as a person of integrity” in B.C.

“She has stepped down as executive director to focus on clearing her name,” Clark said. “It’s important to respect the process now that unproven allegations are before the courts in Ontario in relation to matter that happened there three years ago.”

The news comes at a time when the BC Liberals are embroiled in their own “triple delete” email scandal.

In October, Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham found political staff in the Premier’s Office and ministries of transportation and advance education engaged in the practice of triple deleting emails and failing to document their work to subvert Freedom of Information requests.

A special prosecutor has been appointed as RCMP investigate allegations that one former staffer, George Gretes, deleted a colleague’s emails related to a Freedom of Information request into the Highway of Tears and then lied under oath about it to Denham’s investigators.

On Wednesday, Clark vowed “the practice of ‘triple deleting’ will be prohibited” by all ministers and political staff following the release former privacy commissioner David Loukidelis’ review into the government’s Freedom of Information policies and procedures and records management.

-with files from The Canadian Press

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