, 04.11.2018 01:38 PM

Five reasons why the David Livingston sentence is outrageous

David Livingston is someone with no criminal record – but he has a long, long record of community service and philanthropy. He is a good man who made a mistake. But it isn’t a mistake that deserves the outrageous and excessive sentence he received today – four months.

Here’s why:

  1. It is totally out of step with precedent.  Dean del Mastro, to cite just one recent and notorious example, falsified documents and had multiple violations of the Elections Act.  He got half the sentence Livingston did.  Half.
  2. There was no criminal act.  None. As the Judge himself admitted, more than once – no emails were deleted.  Not a single goddamn one.  How, then, could the same Judge arrive at such a ridiculous result?  It flies in the face of the law and the facts.
  3. It doesn’t fit the “crime.” In fact, it is completely disproportionate to the alleged crime.  Four months for “causing mischief to a computer”? Seriously: that’s what it came down to, at the end of a half-decade-long ordeal.  In Canada – where, you know, this supposed “offence” took place – people convicted of low-level mischief (as here), and who have no prior record (as here), will always receive a probationary period with either a suspended sentence or conditional discharge. Why didn’t Livingston?
  4. It flies in the face of the key principles of sentencing.  Those principles include denunciation and deterrence.  And does anyone truly believe, here, that Livingston hasn’t been utterly destroyed by this?  That his professional life is over, because he declined to listen to an ass-covering bureaucrat? Deterrence, too: I can assure all of you that every single political staffer in Canada has paid very close attention to this trial, and is appropriately deterred.
  5. It is so, so unfair.  True story: the guy who was brought in to prepare those computers for use by a new group of political staffers?  He’s a friend.  He’s a good man.  And, right around the time the OPP decided to target political staff for “deleting emails” that were never deleted – guess which organization he had been doing the same sort of work for, at the same time?

The OPP.  And they – like every Crown office, like every cop shop, like every judge’s chambers – has a shredder, and a delete button on every one of their keyboards.

I guess they’re all going to be charged with “mischief” now, too.



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    Derek Pearce says:

    I assume there will be an appeal and the sentence will be reduced to probation. Although really he should be found not guilty. Also, those emails are still on a server in Guelph yes? Why TF did this even go to trial?

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      Warren says:

      That’s the question.

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    Bruce M says:

    For me to get fired and lose my pension, all I need to do is shred or delete government files. As a government worker, I was livid when they reduced this all the way to mischief. The fact that he was bad at committing a crime (i.e. only told staff how to avoid the server back-up when it was too late) just means he’s a bad crook, not a good person deserving out pity.

    Believing he should be given a slap on the wrist (and I think that is what he received) reinforces people’s belief that politicians (and their hangers-on) are above the law and are all dirty.
    Chretien – golf course/$ponsorship – no consequences;
    Mulroney – brown envelope$ – no consequences;
    McGuinty – gas plant$ – no consequences;
    Duffy – residence $ubsidy – no consequences;
    Wynne – Ornge/$udbury election- no consequences;
    Trudeau – Aga Khan trip$ – no consequences.

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      doconnor says:

      “McGuinty – gas plant$”

      Besides the email deletion there isn’t anything illegal for a government to make an expensive, politically expedient decision.

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    Matt says:

    Does seem rather excessive considering a judge just gave that lawyer in St Thomas who attacked a family with a baseball bat while screaming they were from ISIS got a conditional discharge with no jail time after pleading guilty to assault causing bodily harm.


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    Karl-Milton Marx-Friedman says:

    Great post. Persuasive.

    Re: The sentencing. Bruce M makes a valid point. Failing to correctly delete sensitive files shouldn’t get you a lighter sentence. Bruce’s list is also instructive. Of course, these are all good examples of influence peddling, self-interested schemes. However, Chretien more or less was trying to improve Canada’s brand in Quebec, definitely not the same as Mulroney’s brown envelops. If you read up on Mayor Daley of Chicago or other Democrat machine bosses, you’d learn that corruption can sometimes expedite inefficient bureaucracy. The creation of the O’Hare Airport as an example. There is some nuance around covering up schemes the lead to a net benefit to the community. Typically, the rule of law should be the way forward, sometimes the rules just suck and can’t be fixed when needed.

    Re: To Warren’s 4th point: David Livingston has been made an example of….exactly. Bureaucrats should know there are consequences (i.e. 4 months in jail) so this point weakens the list a bit. Livingston’s career is NOT over, there are lots of private sector jobs out there, including the speaker circuit on how not to be a good bureaucrat by not covering up a bungled scheme.

    Re: the Goodness of a person: you could be Donald Trump and undertake wild actions that result in a Korea Peace Agreement OR you could be the Santa Claus and illegally break into millions of homes per year. It’s about the criminal act, not the character of the person. Santa should get 100 years, period. A lot of intellectual clarity could be gained by recognizing that I’m correct here.

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    John W. says:

    Remembering also the crazy Sudbury situation where politicos were charged for doing what all parties have for a hundred years, giving govt appointments to failed candidates, long serving party workers association presidents etc.. Where do OMB members come from and all the other boards and commissions? Now this partisan prosecution of Livingston.
    The point, finally, are you concerned about the real danger our province faces if Doug Ford wins and begins to exploit the newly discovered role the OPP has assumed for itself, as a state police force, answering to the media and short term public opinion?

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