It’s a Legislative emergency! Get the wood splitter!

Well there appears to be some agreement in the BC Legislature. MLAs, accuser and accusees in the turmoil around the Speaker’s Office are SHOCKED. SADDENED. SHOCKED AND SADDENED after the Speaker released his report.

And many questions are being raised as Speaker Darryl Plecas’ long-awaited report on why he accused two legislative employees of misdoings was released this week.

The first question of course, is why the Legislature, located in the heart of Victoria, would have need of a $13,000 wood splitter and trailer. But such a tool was purchased by the suspended Clerk Craig James and sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz, and, according to Speaker Plecas, billed to the Legislature. It was then delivered to to James’ residence where he and his partner in alleged Legislative shenanigans, split firewood.

Further, apparently a lawyer representing James and Lenz said that James was merely ‘holding’ the wood splitter as there was no room on the Legislature grounds. Again, why does the Legislature need a wood splitter? Well, the answer is apparently in case “a crisis situation befell the legislature grounds”. I’m just going to let that lie there for a moment whilst we all chew our cud.

This, as well as other odd purchases, are detailed in Plecas’ report.

For instance, expensive suits, purchased on an expensive trip to London (England not Ontario). Now Plecas himself was on this expensive trip in 2017. He purchased a new Speaker’s hat for himself from the same establishment that makes the robes for the House of Lords. Fancy! No word on what the hat cost. When questioned, Plecas admitted he approved some of these expenses and went on the trips because “he was new” and “he didn’t want to offend senior staff”.

I…. find those excuses underwhelming. Weak sauce. He wasn’t that new. Plecas was elected to the Legislature in 2013 and before that, somewhat ironically, worked for the Centre for Public Safety and Criminal Justice Research. Surely, at least as an MLA, he had some sense of appropriate travel and expenditures.

Another interesting expense detailed in the report is $10,000 worth of liquor, which was delivered to former Liberal speaker Bill Barisoff. Now, a nice gift card from the BC Liquor Store is a fine gift, a great way to express appreciation. But $10,000 is a substantial amount of alcohol. That’s a lot of appreciation. Not that I wouldn’t appreciate a gift truck filled with liquor.

There were also inappropriate pay outs of cash in lieu of vacation totalling in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Yikes.

Then there’s the fact that these ‘business trips’ contained a lot of expensive hotels and other luxuries, and very little actual business.

Of course the other question raised is why no one else noticed all these rather dubious ‘expenses’.

Plecas has offered the explanation that he began collecting evidence fairly early on — after the expensive trip to London.

Regardless the two suspended Legislature officials are crying foul, saying the report further blackens their names. Which, it certainly does. Was there enough reason to perp walk them out of the Legislature or was that just Mr. Plecas handing out some public humiliation? That’s a debatable question.

Meanwhile the RCMP continued to investigate, the Legislature is calling for an outside auditor, and MLAs are shocked and saddened.

Interestingly, the report may have managed to buy Mr. Plecas more time in the Speaker’s chair. A month or so ago, most were pointing fingers at Plecas for the whole mess, and there was a great deal of speculation over whether he could avoid resigning, thus instigating a by-election that had the potential to unseat the government. Now, the murky waters have become somewhat clearer, and while Plecas is involved, the finger of blame is twitching closer to James and Lenz, at least for this particular affair. And scrutiny is also being brought to bear on Assistant Deputy Speaker, BC Liberal MLA Linda Reid’s previous expense claims. In fact BC Green Leader Andrew Weaver has called for her to step aside.

Restoring the public’s trust is job number one, Weaver says.

That’s going to be one big job after this mess.

Just Posted

Lock it or lose it, Kimberley RCMP says

Kimberley RCMP are reminding everyone to lock up their vehicles and valuable… Continue reading

Province announces $2.5-million boost to increase tourism in B.C.’s resort towns

Changes to RMI funding are bringing more money to places like Harrison and Tofino

Residents say crosswalk is unsafe

Approximately 200 Kimberley residents have expressed concerns with the crosswalk on Spokane… Continue reading

Cranbrook RCMP respond to fatal canoe incident at Moyie Lake

A young man died after a canoe overturned in the lake early Tuesday morning

VIDEO: Killer whales hunt for seals in Vancouver harbour

Bigg’s killer whales feed on marine mammals like seals, sea lions, dolphins and even other whales

VIDEO: B.C.’s waving granny gets incredible send-off from school kids

Tinney Davidson has been waving at students on their way to school for over 11 years, but is moving in a month

Struggling B.C. adoption agency elects new board that intends to keep it open

The previous board announced that Choices would close May 31

Drug decriminalization report welcomed in East Kootenay

Provincial report recommends decriminalizing people who use illicit drugs, shift focus to treatment

New flight service an ‘angel’ for medical patients

Angel Flight East Kootenay will fly medical patients to Kelowna or Vancouver

Vancouver man, 19, charged in human trafficking case involving teen girl

The 16-year-old girl was reported missing and later discovered in Vancouver

Family dog stolen from Kootenay backyard

RCMP appealing for information on pregnant Karelian bear dog missing from Elko, B.C.

Blaine, Wash. inn owner, charged with smuggling people into B.C., granted bail

Robert Joseph Boule ordered to turn away anyone indicating a plan to enter Canada illegally

Most Read