'I think they should be outraged': Q+A with B.C. Speaker on Gary Lenz's alleged deceit
CTV News Vancouver
Published Wednesday, October 9, 2019 6:10PM PDT
VANCOUVER - CTV News anchor Scott Roberts sat down with B.C.'s Speaker of the house Darryl Plecas to discuss the findings of a damning investigation into the alleged wrongdoings of former sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz.
The report suggested Lenz engaged in "discreditable conduct" and lied multiple times during an investigation into the accusations.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity. Watch the full interview for more detailed responses.
CTV: What is your reaction to the Doug LePard report?
I think the first thing people should know is that it's not an outcome that I didn't expect. Way back, before Mr. Lenz was escorted off the property, his behaviour as a police officer was the first and most important thing we were concerned about.
One would expect that somebody who's in effect police chief for the legislature would have the integrity you'd expect of every sworn police officer. The LePard report found that he was anything but.
CTV: Deceit is one of the most serious breaches a police officer can make. He was found to be in egregious breach of trust to the public. Does this report validate what you've been saying all along about Mr. Lenz?
I think it certainly does. I think it also says that we might want to take a second look at some of the findings of (former chief justice Beverley) McLachlin.
CTV: What do you think of what Gary Lenz did? The deceit that he's alleged to have taken part in?
At the time he was walked off the property, he would have had a pretty good idea of why.
Since then, he's collected his salary. He collected a car allowance. And he wasn't at work. And he ultimately retires once having read the conclusions of LePard.
I mean, it's disheartening. It's especially disheartening when those of us that work at the legislature have such a strong obligation to taxpayers to make sure that we're good guardians of their money.
CTV: Why do you think it's taken a year just to get to this point?
I'm sad to have to say this, but I can't tell you how difficult it's been to get to this place. At every single turn people were moving heaven and earth to stop this investigation.
What does it take to get people to pay attention? To ask the right questions, to say what is going on here?
It's fair to say that with the exception of Andrew Weaver, we've had nobody to be helpful to us at every single turn.
CTV: Why did you ask former Vancouver Police Department deputy chief Doug LePard to do this?
LePard is somebody I've never worked for or with. It was the suggestion of legal counsel.
We wanted to be very careful about that. We wanted to make sure nobody could come back to us and say "you know Doug LePard, he's gonna be on your side" or whatever.
CTV: Were you satisfied with LePard's findings?
Yes, I was. Because from the very beginning I felt very strongly that if there was an investigation the only possible outcome would be neglect of duty, deceit and discreditable conduct.
Any good investigator would have come to that conclusion.
CTV: And yet, Beverley McLachlin did not come to that conclusion. Take us back to when you read her report that essentially cleared Gary Lenz of wrongdoing. What did you make of that at the time?
Her terms of reference were extremely limited. She didn't have an opportunity to follow up on instances of clearcut fraud.
We provided a list of some 18 different witnesses and only a handful of them were considered.
Had she been able to follow up, she probably would have come to that conclusion.
I don't in any way think that McLachlin didn't do her job. I think she did her job extremely well. She was just pointed in a different direction.
CTV: So what was the point of McLachlin's report, then?
I was not privy to organizing that. It's not the way I would have done it.
There's a methodology that happens under an investigation which is for workplace purposes. In my view, it doesn't help us get at the truth.
CTV: Did that report serve taxpayers, or not?
I think it served the taxpayers in part because it pointed to wrongdoing by the clerk. What happened thereafter, some would argue didn’t serve taxpayers very well.
CTV: Was it reasonable for McLachlin to just believe Gary Lenz when he told her things?
Well certainly I wouldn't do that, and my chief of staff wouldn't do that. Because we've met thousands of criminals. And one pretty basic rule is you don't always believe what people tell you.
Had there been an opportunity for McLachlin to follow up, then she could have got to a different conclusion. The problem was the timeline was so short.
You basically say in the absence of proof I'm going to have to say I'll take your word for it.
CTV: Some may say you ordered this report to be completely self-serving; to vindicate yourself and validate what you'd been saying.
I spent my whole life as a criminologist. So I know a little bit about when I see wrongdoing. Number two, I spent my whole life as an academic. And we only care about one thing: truth.
As an elected official, I'm there as a guardian of taxpayer dollars. I'm expected to make decisions in the most honest way I possibly can. And that's all I've tried to do.
CTV: Did you make the scope of this investigation that narrow because you knew you had him on the lies related to the liquor thefts?
We knew this was a pretty clear-cut case. You don't want to be accused of piling on.
This was a big thing. It wasn't just about the theft. It's about somebody who's the most senior official at the legislature doing something untoward.
It promotes a culture of corruption, where employees say, "I guess it doesn't matter what you do around here."
The person who's at the top should have impeccable integrity. We had a situation where that person didn't do that, and then we had the person who we should go to and say, "excuse me, I don't think this person's behaving with integrity," saying, "wink wink, nudge nudge, go away."
And I was criticized by McLachlin for not going through normal channels. Well, who was I going to go to? The police at the leg?
CTV: Is lying about the liquor the worst thing Gary Lenz did?
In my mind it is. It's lying to chief justice McLachlin. That is pretty serious.
CTV: Were you surprised that he resigned last week?
Not in the slightest. I predicted that. He'd wait until the end of the month so his pension would be maximized.
CTV: He had access to this report some weeks before he resigned.
From the moment he was walked off the property, he knows that I'm getting thrown under the bus and my motives are being questioned.
And throughout the McLachlin investigation he still knows that. And he still doesn't come forward. As a police officer he should be the first person to come forward.
CTV: Are you upset? Are you hurt?
I'm not mad at Mr. Lenz. I think he just got off base. He got off track.
What I am upset about is the relentless efforts of people to stop us from investigating anything. When is that OK?
CTV: Now that this report is out there what happens next? Is there any recourse?
If he was a regular serving member of a police department, they would say we're changing the record of employment. If it ultimately turned out he would have been fired.
But that's not the case with a special police constable. The moment they resign, any kind of consequence is off the table.
CTV: Is that right?
There's just no way that it's ever appropriate that somebody who has a job where they're expected to guard public interests has been found to have violated that trust—that they should just be able to walk away.
To me it's just incredible.
CTV: So what should taxpayers think at the end of the day?
I think they should be outraged.
CTV: Last time we talked, you told me you think people should go to jail for this. Do you still think that?
Yes, I do.