British Columbia

'I want to see justice': Plecas speaks out after release of bombshell report into B.C. Legislature expenses

Speaker said what he witnessed over the past 18 month is 'tip of the iceberg'

Posted: January 24, 2019

"I want us to get to a place where we get our money back," said Speaker of the House Darryl Plecas, who authored the 76-page bombshell report into the expenses of two suspended B.C. legislature officials. (CBC)

Speaker of the House Darryl Plecas, who authored the 76-page bombshell report into the expenses of two suspended B.C. legislature officials, broke his silence on Wednesday, speaking to reporters outside an unrelated event he was attending in Abbotsford.

The report was released on Monday after it was reviewed by members of the legislature's management committee.


It alleged fraudulent and flagrant overspending, "lavish" trips overseas, inappropriate expense claims and cash payouts, as well as unjustified termination of employees. 

Clerk of the House Craig James and Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz were both suspended Nov. 20 and escorted out of the legislature by police. They have not been charged with any crime, and have denied all wrongdoing.

Plecas said he hopes his report will bring "meaningful oversight and meaningful transparency" to the legislature, which previously had a culture where "it was difficult for people to do everything right.

"I never want to see a situation where a single employee is harmed by anything that happens at the legislature, so I want to see justice for those people, and I want to feel vindicated when I see that happen," said Plecas.

"The other thing of course is the impact that this has had on taxpayers, and I want us to get to a place where we get our money back."

See how the explosive events unfolded over two months:

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Watch the timeline of events from when the scandal was first brought to public attention until the scathing 76-page report was released.  3:49

Culture of transparency

James and Lenz said on Monday that they were "shocked" by the allegations listed in Plecas' report, and that they were confident that with time they would be found to be "completely false and untrue."

In November, the pair told reporters they were humiliated after being placed on administrative leave and that they want their jobs back and their reputations restored.

Plecas said he would not have done one single thing differently in November, saying he was "very thoughtful and very careful" and was acting on legal advice.

Responding to questions about why he approved expenses listed in the report in the first place, Plecas said the situation was "very complicated," and that he needed time to observe a pattern of behaviour.

From left, Speaker Darryl Plecas, Clerk Craig James, and Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz. (Gregor Craigie/CBC)

 "You never want to be in a place where you say 'Oh, I've seen a single instance of wrongdoing.' You have to be able to construct a pattern of activity and it's not always easy to get to the end zone unless you have the confidence of people," he said.

Plecas said he hoped people would "cut him some slack," saying "I think if I was standing next to the average British Columbian, they would have said exactly what I felt."

Forensic audit coming

On Monday, members of the legislature's management committee agreed to launch an audit of legislature finances, conduct a workplace review and submit that report to an auditor from outside of B.C.

The RCMP has said it is investigating staff at the legislature, but it has not said who is the subject of the probe or described the investigation as criminal in nature.

Plecas concluded that this story is far from over.

"I'm sure if we go back we're going to find that what I saw in 18 months is simply the tip of the iceberg."

With files by Jesse Johnston