The B.C. Speaker’s office is promising more reports looking into activities by the clerk and sergeant-at-arms at the B.C. legislature. This comes after Speaker Darryl Plecas has recused himself from an independent investigation that will start soon by a retired judge.
“More than happy to have a retired judge come in. But to say the notion of the Speaker recusing himself for these items going forward, not a chance,” the Speaker’s chief of staff Alan Mullen said. “British Columbians are screaming loud and clear: ‘Please don’t stop. Please keep going.’ And are we going to keep going? That is a big yes.”
“He is still the speaker. He is still in charge of the legislature.”
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The Legislative Assembly Management Committee (LAMC) is expected to meet on Monday to determine the scope of the independent return. The retired judge, who has not been named yet, is expected to look at the reports already conducted.
The reports includes the original Plecas Report, which accuses clerk Craig James and sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz of inappropriate spending at the legislature. It also will look at James and Lenz’s response and Plecas’ rebuttal of that report.
Following the independent report, the legislature will make a decision on whether James and Lenz should continue on paid leave, move to leave without pay, be reinstated to their jobs or be fired.
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“This is the people’s house. We need to give the information to people,” Mullen said. “I am not part of the legislative assembly so it would be inappropriate for me to say if they should be fired or not. But as a British Columbian I say that’s not leadership. And if you read the Speaker’s report it’s pretty clear it’s his view that’s not leadership.”
The expectation from Mullen is that the retired judge will report back within weeks.
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A workplace review is also set to begin. It’s on that issue that Plecas is planning on putting forward another report.
But Vancouver lawyer Kyla Lee says the constant reports are not helping the ongoing police investigation.
“Information has been collected by people who are not the RCMP and there’s an investigation that appears to have, or allegedly seems to have, a slant of bias towards it,” Lee said. “[That] raises significant problems for the effectiveness of an ultimate prosecution.”
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The latest report from Plecas refers to James and Lenz as telling “lies” four different times. The clerk and sergeant-at-arms have not been given a chance to respond to the latest report.
“[There’s] almost mudslinging in that report. A lot of ‘this is a lie,’ ‘this is not true,’ and ‘I’m telling the truth’ and ‘you don’t have to believe me,’” Lee said. “Statements like that really impact upon the objectivity of the investigation.”
The special prosecutors and RCMP have not provided any timing for when they will announce whether charges will be laid or not. Mullen says he has done everything correctly and has not done anything to impact the ongoing investigation.
“We are constantly checking with police, we are consistently checking with the special prosecutors and our own counselors to make sure we are not doing anything to impeded that investigation,” Mullen said.