Premier Kathleen Wynne’s former deputy chief of staff Patricia Sorbara tweeted five rather peculiar messages on Saturday that shed light into the cut-throat world of Liberal politics. Just before the charges were laid, she had taken a leave of absence to become party CEO and 2018 campaign director.
She had left her position under a cloud, charged for bribery under a provincial statute for an incident in Sudbury. But under our justice system, a charge doesn’t displace the presumption of innocence unless and until a court finds the accused guilty. She was acquitted a few months ago and expected to rejoin Wynne’s team.
Saturday, however, she tweeted that Wynne slammed the door on her. So much for the “Fairness Premier.” Sorbara, clearly disappointed in Wynne, tweeted that politics is “not for the faint of heart…if you work as political staff, you serve at the pleasure of the Leader…but decisions re-integrating into the the existing team proved too tough to overcome. The Leader made the decision she felt best and I am no longer part of the campaign. I am very saddened by her decision but I defend the Leader’s right to make it.”
Pretty ruthless move by Wynne. Sorbara’s name was cleared but Wynne’s political expediency trumped doing the right thing.
Wynne’s modus operandi was a continuation of former Premier Dalton McGuinty’s office where the Liberal Leader expects unquestionable adulation and obedience from their staff. Creepily echoing North Korea’s dictatorship, the Leader rules supreme. Regardless.
Former McGuinty chief of staff David Livingston wasn’t so lucky before the criminal courts. He was found guilty of dishonestly deleting documents relating to the cancellation of power plants to protect the Liberals.
It was always an enigma to me as to why a highly successful businessman like Livingston would even consider working for McGuinty. Livingston had a lucrative 30-year banking career. He then spent about seven years as chief executive of Infrastructure Ontario. According the 2012 Sunshine List, he made $321,249 in his last year there. He then joined McGuinty for 9 short months until the former premier suddenly decided to cut and run.
He could have easily retired or worked elsewhere instead of joining McGuinty’s political swamp. Making small talk with him, I once asked: “why would you possibly want this job at this stage of your life?” He answered: “because I love the man. I’d do anything for him.”
Turns out Livingston wasn’t bluffing. He committed criminal deeds to cover-up the gas plant fiasco’s paper trail, which served not only McGuinty’s interests but also his successor’s Wynne.
He was found guilty of one charge of unauthorized use of computer and one charge of attempting to commit mischief to data. Of course, Wynne’s attempting at all costs to separate herself from the scandal.
And Livingston’s actions created a convenient way to allow her to shrug off the gas plant scandal and say she knew nothing about it. His crimes were of benefit to Wynne, whether she likes it or not.
The prosecutors in the case are seeking jail time for Livingston, as they should. He was acquitted of a breach of trust charge, there is no doubt that what he did offended any sense of public duty.
Livingston’s lawyer, who did everything to prevent the charges to be laid in the first place, scoffed at that suggestion saying: “We consider that to be an absurd position given Mr. Livington’s outstanding good character.”
That may well be the case, but when you play in the swamp, you take your chances. You might get bitten by an alligator.