The legal battle between Premier Kathleen Wynne and the Progressive Conservatives is heating up, with the Tories filing a notice of intend to defend in $2 million defamation suit.
“We’re prepared to fight it out,” Conservative MPP Lisa MacLeod said Thursday, challenging Wynne to drop the suit and “stop playing little games behind the scenes with lawyers.”
Wynne is suing MacLeod, PC Leader Tim Hudak and the party for remarks they made linking her to an OPP investigation of the premier’s office in regards to the deletion of government documents in the $1.1 billion scandal over gas-fired power plants cancelled before the 2011 election.
MacLeod challenged Wynne to call an election so concerns can be settled at the ballot box.
In a letter to Wynne lawyer Mark Freiman of Lerners LLP, the Conservatives say “the statements about which your client complains are clearly within the recognized privileges protecting freedom of speech, particularly where it concerns matters of importance within a necessary and vital public debate.”
Acting for the Conservatives, lawyer Robert Rueter charges the Liberals “intensified” media coverage of the remarks made by MacLeod and Hudak by repeating them in an open letter signed by the premier on March 30.
“Our clients are not responsible for any republication of the purportedly defamatory statements as a result of the release to the public by your client of her open letter.”
Hudak has charged Wynne “oversaw and possibly ordered the criminal destruction of documents,” while MacLeod has tweeted a comparison between Wynne and former U.S. president Richard Nixon of Watergate infamy.
The OPP anti-rackets division is investigating former Dalton McGuinty chief of staff David Livingston for breach of trust, alleging Livingston obtained a special password enabling the holder to wipe clean computer hard drives in the dying days of the McGuinty administration last year and gave it to a non-government employee.
That password was valid until March 20, 2013, about five weeks after Wynne became premier on February 11. Livingston has denied any wrongdoing.
In a 111-page document used to obtain a search warrant, police claim that password was used by Peter Faist, the boyfriend of Livingston deputy Laura Miller, on a handful of computers on February 6 and 7 of last year. other computer hard drives from the premier’s office are now being examined to see when they were accessed using that special password.