Receipts in Speaker’s report come under scrutiny by Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation

Receipts in Speaker's report come under scrutiny by Canadian Taxpayers' Federation

WATCH: There are more than 600 receipts filed in the report released by the legislature’s Speaker last week. And one of those receipts is allegedly for an expensive men’s watch, according to the Canadian Taxpayer’s Federation. Both of the officials who are the focus of the report, Craig James and Gary Lenz, say the allegations are false, and they are innocent. Mary Griffin reports.

BC’s Green Party leader Andrew Weaver had a chance to look at a receipt contained in the Speaker’s report released last week.

“Hanging beauty case men. Holy crap. VIP pack. Grey pouch. What’s that?” Weaver asked.

“I’d like to claim this stuff when I go on travelling. I’m just joking.”

The receipt was for a piece of luggage allegedly purchased by Clerk of the Legislature, Craig James, while in Hong Kong. The explanation for the purchase is that the suitcase could be used by MLA’s in the future.

Weaver went looking for the suitcase. He started at the clerk of the committees’ office. They sent him to the clerk’s office. But they sent him to the sergeant-at-arms office, who sent him back to the clerk’s office, who then phoned the office of the acting sergeant-at-arm’s office. But no suitcase was found.

“It turns out that I couldn’t use this suitcase, which is not a big deal because I have my own,” Weaver said.

There’s a reason Weaver couldn’t find it. There is no suitcase, according to the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation British Columbia director, Kris Sims.  “What’s interesting, is that there is an item there that says Maverick, black, large edition. And it’s circled with a ballpoint pen on the receipt. And someone has written, ‘luggage’ next to it”, Sims said.

She’s alleging that a receipt submitted for a suitcase, was actually for an $800 watch.

“It’s a watch. It’s a man’s fancy wristwatch. It’s not a piece of luggage at all. We think that the trust and the perception of British Columbians is really shaken here. And when it comes to things like transparency, and ethics and accountability, the image matters too,” Sims said.

Weaver said he knows there is a police investigation underway, and there will be a forensic audit of the finances at the Legislature, but he wants to see more.  “Frankly, we’re getting very close to needing a full-scale inquiry on this,” Weaver said.

Craig James and Gary Lenz, the suspended officials at the legislature, will submit their defence to the allegations to an all-party committee Friday.

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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