You may not have partaken in the luxurious overseas trips, partied with more than a thousand dollars worth of booze, or used the wood-splitter, but you paid for them, we all did.
This is according to a recently released report from the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, Darryl Plecas, who aimed much of the report at House Clerk Craig James and Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz.
A whistleblower, who was a BC Liberal caucus employee, is claiming BC Liberal MLA Linda Reid, who was the Speaker of the Legislature from 2013 to 2017 was also involved.
Not only has the finger been pointed at her for double-dipping but there are claims a report about a massive payment to James has mysteriously disappeared from the Speaker’s vault.
James and Lenz, who were removed from the legislature by police-escort in November, are accused of overwhelmingly reckless spending and Cowichan Valley Green Party MLA, Sonia Furstenau said the most senior people at the legislature haven’t had to declare their travel expenses.
“The people at the very top, detailed in this report, raises some very serious questions about how they have been operating in their roles,” said Furstenau. “I think it was agreed within the Legislative Assembly Management Committee that as the elected people, we have a very significant responsibility and duty to ensure that we take the steps, right now, that begins to rebuild that trust.”
The local MLA is part of the Legislative Assembly Management Committee and was one of the politicians that made the decision to release this report to the public.
Furstenau said it’s vital that three values, in particular, are rebuilt in Victoria.
“Already, the clerk’s office has proactively agreed to make all of its travel expenses available to the public without the need for an FOI (Freedom of Information), so that was a step that was already taken,” said Furstenau. “However, it’s necessary that we, as a Legislative Assembly, take the steps to rebuild accountability and transparency, and the trust that is so necessary.”
If James and Lenz, who are on paid administrative leave, want to respond to this damning report, they need to write a letter to the three house leaders.
Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA Doug Routley said he was shocked to hear about the allegations.
“I don’t want to make assumptions,” said Routley. “I presume people are innocent until proven otherwise, so I wouldn’t make a comment in that context but on the whole, the issues mentioned in the report are shocking.”
The legislature resumes on February 12, with the Throne Speech.
Neither Reid nor Andrew Wilkinson has been available to the media to answer questions.
The RCMP is investigating.