Long-awaited Ontario gas plants trial could be delayed again
David Livingston (centre), chief of staff to former Ontario premier Dalton McGuinty, arrives at court in Toronto with his lawyer Brian Gover (right) on Monday, Sept. 11, 2017.(THE CANADIAN PRESS/Colin Perkel)
Colin Perkel, The Canadian Press
Published Thursday, September 14, 2017 2:51PM EDT
TORONTO -- The long-awaited gas plants trial of two top aides to Ontario's former premier in Toronto could be delayed yet again.
As happened earlier in the week, the defence complained Thursday again about a lack of information provided by the prosecution.
Lawyers for David Livingston and Laura Miller said they might need another week-long adjournment -- until Sept. 25.
Instead, the judge made it clear he wants the trial started, and sent the parties to a room to work out their differences.
They later emerged to say they had made some progress and would report back on Friday.
The aides to then-premier Dalton McGuinty face three charges over deleted emails about the Liberal government's decision to cancel two gas plants just before the 2011 election.
The trial was to have started hearing witnesses last Monday but was delayed a week over the disclosure issue, with the parties to report back to the court on Thursday. Livingston's lawyer, Brian Gover, kicked off the day's proceedings by indicating the defence would be needing another adjournment.
"Let me begin with the upshot: The disclosure is still incomplete," Gover told Ontario court judge Timothy Lipson. "We should adjourn for an additional week so that the Crown can comply."
Gover rhymed off a list of complaints, suggesting the prosecution had failed to follow the court's directions from earlier this week.
The material at issue, the lawyer said, relates to updated police and prosecution notes of witness interviews.
Crown lawyer Tom Lemon defended the prosecution's effort to follow the disclosure instructions Lipson gave on Monday when he put the case over.
"We feel we have complied," Lemon said. "In our view we were overly generous."
"I would prefer to have you and defence counsel go through this rather than go nit-picking at the disclosure before the trial judge," Lipson said at one point.
Lawyer Scott Hutchison, who speaks for Miller, complained about a recent report from a computer expert the prosecution plans to call as its first witness. Despite a six-hour meeting with its own expert this week, the defence said it was still scratching its head over what it all meant.
"We're trying to reverse engineer the process," Hutchison said. "We're getting this material. It's dribbling out in the weeks before the trial. It's simply not fair."
Lipson made it clear he did not relish having to put the case over yet again, adding he had been expecting to hear Thursday that everything was good to go Sept. 18. The judge then sent the lawyers to a conference room and told them to report back in an hour.
"Hammer out what's needed," Lipson told them. "I will keep you here as long as it's necessary to work this out as much as you can."
Shortly after noon, Gover reported they had made progress and would keep talking. Lipson agreed to return to court Friday for an update on whether they were prepared to start proceedings as planned next week, even if it meant rearranging witness schedules.
Livingston and Miller have pleaded not guilty to charges of breach of trust, unlawful use of a computer, and mischief.