British Columbia

Darryl Plecas aims to bring more dirt to light by lifting non-disclosure agreements

Upwards of 20 former B.C. Legislature employees have come forward with stories of potential wrongdoing. However, some are afraid to speak because of the non-disclosure agreements they signed.

Upwards of 20 former B.C. Legislature employees have come forward with stories of potential wrongdoing

A view of the exterior of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia in Victoria, taken in December, 2017. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

On the heels of his bombshell report alleging gross overspending and mismanagement by two senior officers of the B.C. Legislative Assembly, Speaker of the House Darryl Plecas is likely to lift the non-disclosure agreements signed by former staff who claim they were terminated for attempting to blow the whistle on the financial excesses.

"We've had a number of employees both past and present come forward to us as early as back in the summer with some pretty startling allegations, namely that they were terminated without cause [and] basically instructed to sign non-disclosure agreements to receive some severance," said special adviser to the Speaker Alan Mullen.

"Now, essentially, what they're alleging is that they were terminated for asking questions regarding finances and trips, improprieties of that nature. That's just not OK."

The Plecas report, released last Monday, alleges Clerk Craig James and Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz soaked the taxpayer for lavish trips and questionable expenses, while padding their paycheques with outrageous retirement payments and cash-for-vacation schemes, among other things.

See how the explosive events unfolded over two months:

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

Both James and Lenz say they have done nothing wrong. They remain suspended with full pay and have until Feb. 1 to respond.

Mullen said they've heard from upwards of 20 past employees who worked in the finance department, library and Hansard, but that some will only speak in vague terms, fearing they could be sued due to their non-disclosure agreement.

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

"The Speaker's view is if any employee wants to come forward and tell their story and bring some things to light, especially with regards to wrong doing, then they should be able to so," said Mullen.

"At this point, these are allegations, but they certainly deserve to be investigated further."

The Plecas report paints a picture of a workplace, where staff looked the other way for fear of retribution.

Alan Mullen, special advisor to B.C.'s Speaker of the House, holds up a copy of the report into suspended Clerk Craig James and suspended Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

"It appears that this practice of sudden-without-cause terminations has fostered a culture of insecurity among staff in at least some of the departments at the Legislative Assembly, that if employees spoke up about concerns or fell out of favour, they could lose their jobs without warning," wrote Plecas.

As part of his recommendations, Plecas has asked for a full workplace review of the Legislative Assembly by an independent party. 

The report also recommends a full forensic audit.