Premier Dalton McGuinty is blaming the federal Liberals for controversy swirling around top provincial aides misusing government computers for partisan purposes.
In the wake of revelations that his own senior staff used taxpayer-funded phones and email to conduct federal Liberal leadership business, McGuinty chided the national party for putting its contact information on a list.
"The federal Liberal party, without our approval or our consent, chose to put names on their website. That’s not something they should have done,” the premier said on Friday.
"I think it was a lapse on the part of somebody over at the federal Liberal party, somebody who was eager, maybe perhaps a little overzealous. .... Clearly, government emails and phone numbers should not form part of that list."
On Thursday, Progressive Conservative Leader John Tory revealed five provincial officials who worked as deputy returning officers for the federal Liberals’ delegate selection meetings on Sept. 30 used their government email and phones for partisan purposes, contrary to previous directives
But Tory says McGuinty was "champion buck-passer" for trying to shift blame to the federal party. Two of the five Liberals in question work in the premier's office as issues managers.
Still, McGuinty’s relative contrition was in stark contrast to the combative tack his deputy premier, Health Minister George Smitherman, took when Tory first raised the matter in the Legislature.
The mercurial Smitherman revved up things so much with over-the-top defensive rhetoric that Chris Morley, the premier's press secretary, had to issue a damage-control statement later last Thursday.
Despite the Furious George routine, McGuinty said he has no plans to punish his deputy.
"I have every confidence in George Smitherman," the premier said.