Welcome to this new feature on theBreaker.news. A compendium of the latest headlines on corruption in British Columbia.
What took so long?
Almost two years after Chilliwack BC Liberal MLA John Martin called the RCMP to investigate theft in his office, the B.C. Prosecution Service finally revealed that it hired a special prosecutor.
Robin McFee was appointed March 20, 2017 by Acting Assistant Deputy Attorney General John Labossiere, but McFee’s involvement was kept secret for 682 days.
The Jan. 31 statement from the prosecution office said the announcement was postponed pending completion of the investigation and submission of the report to Crown Counsel. After the report was submitted to McFee, “Mr. McFee requested and received further investigative materials, and the charge assessment process is now underway,” the statement said.
The announcement comes on the heels of the Jan. 21 release of Speaker Darryl Plecas’s report on corruption in the B.C. Legislature.
When theBreaker.news renewed queries to the RCMP’s Lower Mainland public information officer about the case on Jan. 23, it took five days before Sgt. Janelle Shoihet said “the matter remains under investigation.”
Pressed further, Shoihet admitted the case had been referred to the B.C. Prosecution Service, whose spokesman, Daniel McLaughlin, finally admitted on Jan. 31 that a special prosecutor had been appointed. Minutes later, McLaughlin issued a news release.
Martin declined comment.
In a March 2, 2017 Chilliwack Progress story, Paul Henderson reported that Martin fired an employee after discovering tens of thousands of dollars missing from the constituency office bank account.
Martin told reporters in Victoria that “in the process of implementing the new system, I became aware that money from my constituency account may have been inappropriately used.”
That new system that Martin referred to is believed to be a project of the Legislative Assembly Management Committee that was carried out by Craig James, the clerk who was suspended with pay on Nov. 20 because of an RCMP investigation involving two special prosecutors.
At its Dec. 13, 2017 meeting, LAMC heard that Legislature spending rose 37.1% on information systems, driven, in-part, by the centralization of constituency office expenses and document workflow software. That three-phase centralization project wrapped-up last April.
This is not McFee’s first rodeo as a special prosecutor. On June 25, 2010, the Criminal Justice Branch announced McFee approved a breach of trust charge against former Chilliwack city planner Grant Sanborn. He did not file a similar charge against BC Liberal MLA John Les, the former Mayor of Chilliwack, because there was no substantial likelihood of conviction. In 2012, Sanborn pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of failure to enforce provincial agricultural land regulations.
Meanwhile, also Jan. 31, LAMC extended the deadline for James and suspended Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz to respond to the Plecas report. Feb. 1 was the original deadline set at the committee’s Jan. 21 meeting. But the two men have until Feb. 7 to explain their controversial expenditures exposed by Plecas.
House leaders Mike Farnworth (NDP), Mary Polak (BC Liberal) and Sonia Furstenau (Green) agreed to the six-day extension.
To begin the day after losing the Nanaimo by-election, BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson released his 20-point Legislature reform plan, including: proactive disclosure of travel expense claims from Legislative Officers, the Speaker, Clerk and Sergeant-at-Arms; no foreign travel without six-week prior approval by LAMC; mandatory retirement at age 75 for all Legislative officers; no booze buying except B.C. products for use at public ceremonial events; and income limits and retirement and severance based on public service guidelines.
“We propose that these be implemented immediately, and where legislation or votes in the Legislature are required, they should proceed by agreement of all parties at the earliest possible date,” Wilkinson wrote to LAMC.
There was a glaring omission from the list. Wilkinson did not include reforms to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to expand the right to know. In an exclusive interview with theBreaker.news, Information and Privacy Commissioner Michael McEvoy said there is no reason to continue shielding the Legislature from the FOI law.
“This is something that my predecessors, all three of them, and myself, have called for over the years and I’m very pleased that it’s now in the public spotlight and the discussion is happening about it,” McEvoy said. “There is no reason why they should be treated any differently from the other 2,900 public bodies that are subject to the legislation.”
AudGen rings in
Auditor General Carol Bellringer added an audit of the Legislative Assembly to her 2019-2020 agenda, released Jan. 31.
“Of note, while we were finalizing this plan, allegations surfaced about administrative processes in the legislative assembly,” Bellringer’s report said. “We have commenced an audit in this area in light of the issues brought to our attention and concerns that my office previously raised in 2007, 2012 and 2013.”
Bellringer’s work is separate from a forensic audit that LAMC will order from an auditor general from another province, as per the Jan. 21 meeting.
Bellringer’s office has 17 audits in progress for this year and another 50 it hopes to complete before 2022.
Mountie’s illegal five-province sex romp
Ex-RCMP Sgt. Derek Brassington broke down in B.C. Supreme Court and admitted he treated a witness in the Surrey Six gangland slaying case “like a girlfriend.”
Brassington, who was attached to the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, pleaded guilty to breach of trust and compromising the integrity and safety of a witness on Jan. 18. CBC and Global successfully challenged a publication ban.
Brassington had a boozy affair in 2009 with the unnamed woman, that included a coast-to-coast sex tour across Canada, with trysts in Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Victoria.
Brassington’s sentence is two years, less a day, house arrest. Brassington’s superior David Attew and cohort Danny Michaud pleaded guilty to lying about Brassington’s affair and sentenced to three months house arrest.
Five people have been convicted of the deaths of six people on Oct. 19, 2007 in a Surrey apartment tower.
Behold, a new satirical souvenir in Richmond. As seen on the Richmond’s Changing Neighbourhoods Facebook group.
Sure to be a hot button.
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