B.C. Premier John Horgan takes questions at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 20, 2019. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Premier John Horgan says B.C. auditor should tackle legislature scandal

B.C. Liberal leader calls for cooperation, foreign travel ban

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson’s offer of a non-partisan effort to clean up the B.C. legislature’s finances was quickly rejected by Premier John Horgan.

“The leader of the opposition called the speaker a rogue and out of control,” Horgan told reporters Thursday.

Horgan acknowledged that secret spending by legislature officers goes back to Social Credit governments, and Speaker Darryl Plecas was unique as an independent in being able to expose it in a report he released Monday. He agreed with Wilkinson that “going to England to buy a hat,” one of the lavish trips documented by Plecas, is something that needs to stop, but said the mostly inactive all-party management committee of MLAs is the way to do that.

Wilkinson called Thursday for an immediate ban on foreign travel, after Clerk of the House Craig James, Sergeant at Arms Gary Lenz and Plecas visited Britain and China with little but lavish expense claims to show for it. One trip to Britain featured a limousine ride to St. Andrew’s golf club in Scotland, where a highlight was shopping in the gift shop.

Horgan also supported Wilkinson’s call that B.C. Auditor General Carol Bellringer is independent and should lead the review. The committee has called for an outside auditor, causing Bellringer to ask why she was sidelined on detailed spending records that she was not given access to previously.

RELATED: B.C. legislature speaker calls for ‘justice’ for fired employees

RELATED: Legislature managers accused of cash payouts, overseas trips

Horgan also supported Wilkinson’s call that B.C. Auditor General Carol Bellringer is independent and should lead the review. The committee initially called for an outside auditor, causing Bellringer to ask MLAs why she was sidelined on detailed spending records that she was not given access to previously.

Former auditor-general John Doyle blew the whistle on MLA spending in 2012, resulting in a new system to report their expenses publicly and regularly. But the speaker, clerk and sergeant at arms were not included, until November when Plecas arranged for Lenz and James to be suspended and called in police to investigate.

Horgan joked about the more outrageous spending revealed by Plecas, including a wood splitter and “cufflinks from London” that were detailed in expense claims. But he and Wilkinson agreed that taxpayers are disgusted and disillusioned by what has been revealed.

“The notion that staff in this place were asked by their superiors to unload a liquor cabinet and take liquor offsite is offensive and potentially criminal,” Horgan said. “And that’s why we need to also be reminded that there is a criminal investigation underway, and not one but two special prosecutors.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

VIDEO: Royal Bay Secondary students take flight in ‘Peter and the Starcatcher’

Play tells the story of the orphan who becomes Peter Pan

WATCH: Oak Bay wins regional skating competition

Winning tradition continues leading up to provincials

Sidney designer showing killer collection at Van Fashion Week

A young Sidney designer is showing her 14 piece collection Obsidian Nights at Vancouver Fashion Week

Invasive crab spotted near Sooke

Fisheries need more data to know if numbers are increasing

Indigenous leaders, politicians say Trans Mountain report flawed

The National Energy Board has endorsed an expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline a second time

POLL: Will you be wearing pink to take a stand against bullying?

Schools and workplaces across Greater Victoria and around the province will be… Continue reading

Legislation to protect B.C. farmland comes into effect

Regulations enhance food security, encourage long-term farming

Have you heard the legend of Shuswaggi, the Shuswap Lake monster?

Witness accounts as old as 1904, and as recent as 2018, place a creature in the lake’s depths

UPDATE: B.C. ticket holder winner of $25.9-million Lotto Max jackpot

Next draw set for Mar. 1 with an estimated jackpot of $10 million

B.C.-based ‘Team Tardi’ brings home gold in junior curling worlds

In a 9-4 victory over Switzerland, a Langley-based curling team earned its 2nd straight world title

People gather for funeral of seven children killed in fast-moving Halifax fire

Traditional portion of the service will be followed by words from community members

B.C. weavers to help Alaska Native project honouring survivors of violence

Dozens of Chilkat and Ravenstail weavers from all over North America will be weaving 5-inch-by-5-inch squares

B.C. skip Sarah Wark and team eliminated at Scotties Tournament of Hearts

Nontheless pretty impressive stuff from the 24th-ranked team in the country

Most Read