Which MLAs broke the law? Speaker should tell us who might go to jail

This is not just anyone saying politicians broke the law and may be headed for jail. This is the Speaker of the legislature and his chief of staff.

B.C. Legislative Speaker and Abbotsford MLA Darryl Plecas, left, and his chief of staff Alan Mullen said this week that some MLAs broke the law and could face jail time. Mike Bell / Postmedia News

VICTORIA — On first reading of the responses from the two suspended officials in the B.C. legislature scandal, I looked for the wood splitter, the $10,000 worth of booze and the corruption watch.

Clerk of the legislature Craig James and sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz both defended the $13,000 wood splitter and trailer as purchases for earthquake preparedness.

James says the splitter was parked at his house for a time, pending preparation of a concrete storage pad out behind the ledge.

There are, in fact, two large shipping containers full of similar earthquake-preparedness-related acquisitions stored on the legislature grounds. So I’d rate that purchase as evidence of overreaching expenditure, perhaps with a touch of weirdness, but nothing more than that.

Then there is the allegation that back in 2013 the clerk was involved in hauling away $10,000 worth of alcohol, supposedly for delivery to retiring Speaker Bill Barisoff.

Lenz says James, “assisted by a member of staff, loaded unopened boxes and bottles of alcohol into the clerk’s truck on two occasions.”

James: “I categorically deny taking $10,000 of liquor, to Mr. Barisoff, or otherwise. I took some amount of alcohol to Mr. Barisoff’s house (certainly not $10,000 worth) in the Okanagan. I remember that Mr. Barisoff provided a cheque for the alcohol, payable to the legislative assembly. It should be in the records, which are unavailable to me.”

Speaker Darryl Plecas aired the allegation in his report but admitted that he had been unable to find anyone who had actually witnessed the off-loading of $10,000 worth of booze. So I’d continue to score that one as an uncorroborated rumour.

The controversial watch was acquired during a parliamentary trip to the U.K. in late 2017 and it now resides in a place of shame in the Speaker’s office.

Plecas’s chief of staff Alan Mullen gleefully referred to it in a recent interview as “the corruption watch” and vowed: “You will never see him wear this watch, that’s for sure.”

James confirms that on a visit to the U.K. parliamentary gift shop, “three watches were purchased.” Two were to be stored at the legislature as protocol gifts.

“The third watch was purchased at the specific direction of the Speaker.”

So on that one, it’s his word against that of Plecas.

While those were the most widely reported abuses arising out of the Plecas report, James in his 24-page response and Lenz in 35 pages plus appendices addressed many of the other accusations as well.

While maintaining their innocence and protesting the damage to their reputations, both admitted minor wrongdoings.

James says he let the magazine subscriptions get out of control and will repay them. Lenz acknowledges bookkeeping errors and will rectify those.

And they also took payback shots at Plecas.

James says the Speaker directed staff to “create a three-year travel plan that included Uganda, China, New Zealand, the United States, various places in Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia.”

Lenz fires back at Plecas for questioning his trip to Ottawa to attend the swearing in of Gordie Hogg, the former B.C. MLA newly elected to Parliament.

“The Speaker asked me if I would attend on behalf of his office and the assembly,” says Lenz. “I agreed.” I gather Hogg is prepared to back up the Lenz version of events.

The two suspended officers both complained about the limitations imposed by the terms of their suspension with pay.

James: “I have requested but have not been afforded the opportunity to ask legislative staff to assist me in preparing a response with the benefit of their recollections, or to have access to documents which I know will support my response. Instead, I have been made to rely on my memory.”

Lenz: “All of my notes, meeting materials, electronic devices, calendars and other reference materials are contained at the legislature, which I have been forbidden to enter. I have been expressly prohibited from having any communications with my staff, or any persons at the legislative assembly.”

Consequently, their responses are neither as detailed nor as well documented as those of Plecas, who had months to assemble the case against them.

Perhaps in anticipation of the releases of the James and Lenz responses — the deadline was a matter of public record — Plecas and Mullen went public with further allegations this week.

The biggest shockers were levelled in an interview with Scott Roberts of CTV in Vancouver.

In the key exchange Roberts asked Plecas: “Do you think elected officials broke the law?”

Plecas: “Yes.”

The reporter then asks Mullen: “Based on what you have seen, should people go to jail based on what they’ve done?”

Mullen: “Given what I’ve seen, over the past year, yeah. There’s people going to jail.”

This is not just anyone saying politicians broke the law and may be headed for jail. This is the Speaker of the legislature and his chief of staff.

Given the amount of material Plecas and Mullen were able to assemble for the first report, I would not dismiss their allegations out of hand.

At the same time, by saying some MLAs broke the law without naming them, Plecas tended to put the entire legislative assembly under a cloud.

He’ll preside there, as the supposed neutral arbiter of proceedings, when the house resumes for the throne speech Tuesday.

Before then, the public should be told if any current members of the assembly are the subject of criminal investigations.

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Источник: Vancouversun.com

Источник: Corruptioner.life


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