There was no room at the B.C. legislature this year for Mike Fleming's annual donation of the provincial Christmas tree — a longstanding tradition for him and his company, Woodstock Evergreens.
For the past 40 years, the company has donated the tree that adorns the rotunda at the provincial legislature building. But when Fleming arrived at the capitol Friday with an 18-foot tall fir he hauled from Shawnigan Lake, he was told it wasn't needed.
"You walk into the building... and they didn't want me to go into the building but I had to go in to take a tree to the Ministry of Forests, and here's a big tree already in there, and I'm going... I was speechless," he said.
Another tree, donated by Bartlett's Tree Service of Victoria, had already become the Christmas crown jewel in the rotunda. Fleming's tree would have to stay out in the cold.
"What happened? Where was the breakdown?" Fleming asked government staffers. "I mean, everything seemed fine."
Fleming's grand fir was relegated to the back entrance of the legislature library — an inferior spot, according to Fleming.
"They're going to use the leftover decorations from the big tree," he said. "I feel like I am number two now, not number one."
Fleming said he wonders if this is payback for delivering last year's tree a day early, forcing the speaker's staff to scramble to receive it. Legislative clerk Craig James says that's not the case.
"Well, it's all about traffic and I know that Madam Speaker was really keen on ensuring that as many people as possible saw this particular gift to the province, and having it out here will result in far more people seeing this tree than those that actually wander through the parliament buildings," James said.
James said a mistake meant Fleming wasn't told of the plans in advance.
"I guess there was some miscommunication or non-communication and to that effect I certainly have apologized."
While Fleming isn't pleased about what happened this year, he said he does intend to keep donating trees in the future.
He said the trees are his gift to British Columbians: "Merry Christmas... ho, ho, ho!"