Premier Kathleen Wynne has threatened possible legal action against Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Hudak if he does not retract “false, misleading and defamatory” comments about her alleged involvement related to the gas plant scandal.
Wynne released an open letter to the media on Sunday. In it, she accuses Hudak of making defamatory allegations about her at his March 27 news conference.
- Wynne distances herself from McGuinty in wake of new allegations
- Premier calls for release of all gas plant documents
On Thursday Hudak said, "We now know that the coverup and criminal destruction of documents and emails took place in Kathleen Wynne's office under her watch as premier," adding that she "possibly ordered the destruction of documents."
His comments came after the release of court documents alleging police — who have an ongoing criminal
investigation into the scandal — believe the chief of staff of former premier Dalton McGuinty gave an outside tech expert access to 24 computers in the premier's office.
According to the documents, top aide David Livingston sought high-level access to the computers to "wipe clean the hard drives" after McGuinty resigned amid controversy over the costly cancellation of two gas plants ahead of the 2011 election.
It's alleged that during the transition period to Wynne's administration, Livingston arranged for his executive assistant to have special access to desktops in the premier's office, even though she had little knowledge of computers.
After Hudak's remark about her possible involvement, Wynne held a snap news conference, saying that Hudak's accusations that she participated in a crime and a coverup were "irresponsible... disgraceful and they're an insult to his office."
Wynne said Livingston "does not work in my office, nor in my government, nor has he ever worked in my government," and says she and her government are co-operating with the provincial police investigation. She said the police allegations, if true, would be "very disturbing."
Wynne has demanded that he and his caucus immediately stop making "untrue comments" and remove all such allegations from their website.
“These allegations and accusations are false and utterly unsupported, and you ought to know it,” she wrote in Sunday's letter.
Wynne says she sought legal advice about Hudak's comments “and if steps are not taken immediately, I will have no choice but to take all necessary and appropriate steps to ensure your false statements are corrected.”
A Wynne spokeswoman would not say what specific steps the premier is considering.
On Sunday afternoon, PC energy critic Lisa MacLeod told reporters in a conference call that she believed the premier’s letter was simply a bid to shut down criticism.
"This was a media stunt by Kathleen Wynne and she is simply trying to send a chill down the backs of each and every opposition member who has the so-called audacity to question her," MacLeod said.
MacLeod did not clarify whether the Progressive Conservatives would comply with the premier’s demand to remove the allegations from its party website.
"We’re going to continue to keep this Liberal government accountable and we’re going to continue to ask questions about this and we’re going to continue to pursue this," MacLeod said, after a reporter asked her if the party will "take down the words" from the website.
Asked if Hudak had contacted legal counsel in connection with the matter, MacLeod said that the party had "not received a letter from any lawyer," again restating the Progressive Conservatives’ intention to hold the government to account.
"We will not be muzzled," MacLeod said.