B.C. Speaker Darryl Plecas not backing down, chief of staff says
The chief of staff to the Speaker says more reports are coming as Darryl Plecas continues to investigate issues plaguing the B.C. Legislature.
Speaking to reporters in Victoria Friday, Alan Mullen said the Speaker is recusing himself from an independent review ordered by the Legislative Assembly Management Committee because Plecas has already provided detailed information. Meantime, he said the speaker will continue with a human resources focused workplace review.
“He is still the Speaker. He is still in charge of this legislature,” said Mullen. “We recognize that OK, there’s things need fixing and we’re going to keep on doing that."
Mullen said it’s his understanding the independent review is simply that – an opportunity to look at the documents submitted so far, and make a recommendation on the employment of two suspended legislature officials.
He says the final call on whether Clerk Craig James and Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz will keep their jobs is up to all 87 MLAs. He says it’s his expectation the review would happen within a ten day window. It’s unclear if that will happen. Government house leaders have yet to draft the terms of the review.
The two men were suspended with pay in November. A report released by the speaker in January detailed what he called “flagrant spending" by the pair. Both James and Lenz have denied any wrongdoing, providing their own detailed responses in February. They say the expenses were signed off.
None of the allegations against them have been tested in court, and no charges have been laid.
As for the workplace review – it will focus on those who work or worked for the legislature, and not those employed by political parties. At this point, he says it’s unclear how much of that information could be made public due to the sensitive nature of the work. But he vows, the Speaker will continue to do what it takes to raise issues and address them.
“British Columbians are screaming loud and clear, ‘Please don’t stop, please keep going,'” said Mullen. “And oh my goodness are we going to keep going? Well that’s a big yes.”
On Thursday all-party MLAs on LAMC decided to order the independent review, along with a workplace review and a financial audit.