Analysis: Trillium alleges Ontario destroyed documents in lawsuit

CANADA: Offshore wind developer Trillium Wind Power is claiming the Ontario government knowingly destroyed documents related to a C$500 million lawsuit against the province. The suit stems from Ontario's 2011 moratorium on offshore wind development in the Great Lakes.

Lake Ontario
Lake Ontario

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In a notice of motion filed with the Ontario Superior Court of Justice, Trillium asserts that "documents have been destroyed and records of communications have been wiped clean or deleted from computers or assigned a code name to render their retrieval impossible."

The motion to amend the company’s lawsuit to include the allegation will be heard 18 June.

Trillium spent years and C$5 million developing its 420-600MW Trillium Power Wind 1 project in Lake Ontario, one of four planned projects, but was derailed when the province announced it would not move ahead with any offshore development until more scientific studies were done.

Trillium initially sued the government for C$2.25-billion in damages, but most of the grounds for the suit were thrown out of court. In 2013, however, the Ontario Court of Appeal ruled the company could go ahead with a claim based on the specific allegation that the government’s decision amounted to "malfeasance in public office."

According to Trillium's court filing, when it went through the discovery process for its revised lawsuit it found that some government documents it expected to see – including records of Trillium’s communications with the province - had been held back. It did find emails confirming an intention to delete communications and confirming an instruction to alter the offshore file to a codeword, the filing said.

Trillium’s allegations come as the Ontario Provincial Police investigate accusations that staff members under former premier Dalton McGuinty deleted documents related to the cancellation of two controversial gas-fired power plants in the province.

Jennifer Beaudry, a spokeswoman for Ontario Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli, said it is inappropriate to comment on the Trillium allegations while the case is before the courts. "We take our record-keeping obligations very seriously. We’re committed to being open, accountable and transparent," she said.

Trillium CEO John Kourtoff says that while he has always preferred a negotiated settlement, he plans to aggressively pursue the case against the province. "If they doubt my commitment to seeing this through they are very mistaken."

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