Outrage grows as details emerge from the spending scandal at the B.C. legislature

Outrage grows as details emerge from the spending scandal at the B.C. legislature

WATCH:  There is a long list of alleged misspending in B.C. Speaker Darryl Plecas’s report. One includes a wood splitter allegedly ordered for the Legislature at a cost of $3,200, along with a $10,000 trailer. But they were never delivered because, allegedly, they were kept at the clerk’s house.

It’s the Cadillac of wood splitters.  The Wallenstein Firebolt slices through wood like butter and is sold for around $3,500.

A similar Wallenstein splitter is parked on the grounds of the B.C. legislature. And near it, is the $10,000 trailer allegedly purchased at the same time by the legislature and delivered to the clerk of the legislature’s home, according to a report by British Columbia legislature Speaker Darryl Plecas.

The leader of the BC Green Party, Andrew Weaver, said he cannot believe the allegations of misspending are so flagrant.

“How many of you have found a fireplace in the legislature that requires firewood to be split? Not a single person can find one,” Weaver said.

His outrage follows allegations of misspending by the suspended Clerk of the Legislature Craig James and the sergeant-at-arms, Gary Lenz.

The report by Plecas lists numerous expense allegations, including a $1,000 suit bought in London by James at the exclusive Ede & Ravenscroft store and paid for by B.C. taxpayers.

“I’m livid about this, as you can probably tell. I’m incensed. And I can assure British Columbians that the BC Green Party caucus will not stand by and watch this continue. We are backing the speaker 100 per cent,” Weaver said.

Sixteen current and former employees came to the Speaker’s office with troubling allegations concerning the clerk and sergeant-at-arms. Some of the whistleblowers lost their jobs for coming forward, according to Plecas.

The Speaker’s chief of staff, Alan Mullen, followed up on their concerns and found a disturbing cycle.

“What we found in a lot of these expenses is that Mr. James would sign off on Mr. Lenz’s and vice versa,” Mullen said.

James and Lenz deny any wrongdoing and are not charged with any crimes. The RCMP is investigating, overseen by two special prosecutors.

But confidence in the legislature is shaken according to the executive director of Integrity BC, Dermod Travis.

“There is nothing criminal about having an overly generous extravagant travel policy. But that doesn’t excuse their behaviour. It doesn’t excuse their responsibility to the people who pay for that travel policy,” Travis said.

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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