Watchdog probes missing hard drives from Toronto Pan Am executives

Ontario's Information and Privacy Commissioner will investigate after auditor general says nine of 12 Pan Am hard drives unavailable

TORONTO – Premier Kathleen Wynne promises her government will co-operate with an investigation by Ontario’s information and privacy commissioner into the deletion of computer hard drives by executives with Toronto’s Pan Am Games.

Commissioner Brian Beamish announced he would open an investigation after the province’s auditor general said Pan Am executives – including CEO Saad Rafi – had “disposed of” nine of 12 computer hard drives her office had requested.

“My office will be investigating to determine whether TO2015 followed appropriate record keeping and record retention practices,” Beamish said in a statement. “The investigation report will be made public when it is completed.”

Beamish declined to do interviews until his report is made public.

Wynne said Friday that the Toronto Pan Am organizing committee had leased the computers and worked with Archives Ontario to make sure they followed the proper procedure to transfer all the files to a storage cloud.

“We will work with the information and privacy commissioner, having to the best of our knowledge followed all of the requirements in terms of retaining that information in the cloud,” she said.

“The auditor general has made it clear that there was no indication of any wrongdoing.”

The Progressive Conservatives complained to the privacy watchdog, saying they were shocked and disturbed to learn computer hard drives for top brass with the last summer’s Pan Am Games had gone missing.

“As I’m sure you can appreciate, without the original hard drives there is no way to determine if all of those records were actually transferred,” wrote PC house leader Steve Clark.

The New Democrats asked the Ontario Provincial Police to investigate the “potential obstruction” of the auditor general and the “potential commission of mischief” in relation to the destroyed hard drives.

The NDP said it’s obvious the Liberals failed to learn their lesson when two top aides of Dalton McGuinty were charged with mischief in relation to data and misuse of a computer system to commit mischief after hard drives in the former premier’s office were wiped clean.

“The Liberal government does not get the benefit of the doubt on the wiping of hard drives,” New Democrat Paul Miller told the legislature.

“Apparently they’re back at their old bad habits.”

The Tories said the Liberals’ “shameful history of using the shredder and delete key to destroy public documents” is well known.

“Destroying hard drives before the auditor general sees what’s on them is evidence again of their outright contempt for transparency,” said Clark.

Auditor General Bonnie Lysyk concluded that Toronto’s Pan Am and Parapan Am Games came in $342 million over budget.

Deputy premier Deb Matthews said Rafi should not be asked to step down from his new job as CEO of the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan Administration because of the investigation by the information and privacy commissioner.

“Absolutely not,” Matthew said Friday. “Saad Rafi is one of our great assets. I know him well because he was my deputy in Health (Ministry), went on to run a terrific set of Games, and is a tremendous asset to our ORPP.”

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.