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Ex-aide handed jail time

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TORONTO—A plot to delete documents about the Ontario government's pre-election cancellation of two gas plants struck at the heart of the democratic process, a judge said yesterday as he sentenced a former top political aide to four months in jail.

The crime committed by David Livingston, chief of staff to former Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty, was extremely serious and demands proper denunciation, Ontario court Judge Timothy Lipson said.

“His conduct was an affront to, and an attack upon, democratic institutions and values,” Lipson said.

“An attempt to tamper with the democratic process requires a strong denunciatory response.”

Lipson also sentenced Livingston, 65, a first-time offender with an otherwise exemplary record of private and public service, to 12 months' probation, including 100 hours of community service.

Livingston was led from court in handcuffs.

Defence lawyer Brian Gover said outside court that his client would appeal both the conviction and sentence.

Gover, who said he expected Livingston to be granted bail without having to spend the night in jail, denounced the punishment meted out to his client, a married father and grandfather.

“That is a harsh and excessive sentence in the circumstances of this case where there was no proof of actual harm,” Gover said.

“You can imagine how upsetting this is for all of them.”

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