The ex-clerk of the B.C. Legislature, Craig James, said last November when he was suspended that he did nothing wrong and he wanted his job back.
He suddenly changed his tune in May when he retired the night before he was going to be fired by lawmakers for misconduct.
Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz maintained his innocence after he was suspended on the same day as James, but he now faces an investigation under the Police Act by former Vancouver Police deputy chief Doug LePard. Legislature financial reports show that Lenz’s department saddled taxpayers with $1.7 million in overtime costs over five years.
RCMP detectives, overseen by two special prosecutors, have been investigating allegations of corruption for the last year. Some of the first charges being considered relate to the infamous wood splitter and purchases of liquor for personal use, according to a source familiar with the investigation.
So Speaker Darryl Plecas and his Chief of Staff Alan Mullen are puzzled why they are still the focus of critical media reports.
“I have no doubt where all of this is going to land because, as I’ve said before, I’m not able to say everything I know, but I do know where it’s going,” Plecas said in the second part of an exclusive interview with theBreaker.news, his first since the release of Auditor General Carol Bellringer’s Sept. 19 report. (Watch the video below.)
“There will be a day of accountability, the taxpayers can be assured of that. It’s a rough ride now, it’s a rough ride for my family, it’s the non-stop beating all of the time, it’s the pointing of the finger to the speaker, the ‘big, bad speaker.’ I guess I would ask, too, when all of that happens, can they identify one single thing that the speaker has done wrong? Is there something, did the auditor find I did something wrong? Has anybody else got reason to confirm that I’ve done something wrong? Let’s hear it, let’s get it out there. But that hasn’t happened. I’m hoping we can get past this set of circumstances we’ve had up until now.”
For example, he points to an unsigned, July 19 Times Colonist editorial, that claimed Mullen’s fact-finding tour of legislatures in Canada and the U.S. was an effort to investigate Lenz.
“I’m wondering where they got that information from, because nothing could be further from the truth,” Plecas said. “What on earth would site visits enable you to learn anything to do with Mr. Lenz’s behaviour at the [Legislature]?”
Plecas called Auditor General Carol Bellringer’s Sept. 19-released audit “a disappointment.” He listed the reasons in part one. There are other investigations to come, such as LePard’s about Lenz, a forensic expert’s analysis of forgery of Plecas’s signature and Plecas’s own report about the whistleblowers who suffered under James and Lenz’s management.
“I want them to know they can take it to the bank, I will not rest until their stories get out there and justice is done,” Plecas said.
Plecas said he would also demand an independent IT audit, after evidence went missing from Legislature computers.
He said the RCMP and special prosecutors are doing a careful, diligent job, but he hopes the process will not take as long as it did to lay charges after a theft from Chilliwack BC Liberal MLA John Martin’s office. Charges of fraud over $5,000 and breach of public trust were finally announced last week, two-and-a-half years after Martin aide Desmond Michael Devnich was fired.
“It’s disturbing, really, how the wheels of justice move so slowly,” Plecas said. “This is not helpful to taxpayers either.”
The wheels of legislative change can move quicker. The NDP government promised in last February’s throne speech to let the ombudsperson, merit commissioner and the information and privacy commissioner have jurisdiction at the Legislature. The latter is key, as the Legislature is an anomaly because it was excluded from the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
“Even on the matter of financial controls, a cleverly deceptive person can even find a way around policy, so it requires more than that, it requires an eagle eye. It requires people to be digging and my point would be that since I started this thing, at every point people said quit digging, quit digging, you’re wrong in the manner you did it, and it’s disheartening,” Plecas said.
“For taxpayers, boy are they getting cheated. They are hardly well-served. I wish it could be different, but lots has to happen. I think before I leave, and I know there are lots of people who had hoped that’s yesterday, and if I wasn’t so concerned about getting this fixed, I would agree with them. I do want to see it through to legislative change and I’m hoping that can happen in the next year.”
WATCH and SHARE Part 2 of theBreaker.news exclusive interview with Darryl Plecas below.
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