Speaker Darryl Plecas says ‘justice’ needed for legislature employees

Speaker Darryl Plecas says ‘justice’ needed for legislature employees

Plecas spoke to media at the opening of a pedestrian and cycling bridge in Abbotsford Wednesday

Speaker Darryl Plecas said this afternoon that he was pleased to see the response to his report on legislature spending, but he won’t be happy until amends are made to staffers who may have been fired for trying to blow the whistle earlier.

He also said the public should get its “money back” and the legislature needs much more oversight and transparency. He also explained why he didn’t immediately confront Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz and Clerk of the House Craig James when he first noticed signs of improper spending.

Plecas spoke at the grand opening of a pedestrian and cycling bridge across Highway 1 in Abbotsford, where he is a local MLA.

He spoke for around half an hour to media who camped out at the event in the hope of speaking to him two days after the release of a shocking report on proliferate spending at the legislature by its two highest officials.

Plecas said there will be more to come, and hinted that more revelations are likely before an outside audit is completed.

“There’s still lots to do,” he said. “I don’t think we’ve seen the end of this story yet.”

RELATED: Full booze cabinets raised Plecas’s suspicions on first day as speaker

Plecas says most employees at the legislature are “wonderful” and that a review is needed to document and fix what they “have had to put up with” while doing their jobs.

Plecas’s report included comments from several whistleblowers who spoke to concerns about spending and other issues.

“I never ever want to see a situation where a single employee is harmed by something that happens in the legislature so I want to see justice for those people and I will feel vindicated when I see that happen.”

He said that what he saw while acting as Speaker was probably the “tip of the iceberg,” with more likely to be revealed in the future.

The spending issues should have been fixed long ago, Plecas said, saying that it was clear from his first minutes as Speaker – when he encountered cabinets full of booze and a bucket of ice that was refreshed twice daily – that something was amiss.

“I have never seen this kind of thing in government,” said Plecas, who was a longtime criminologist at the University of the Fraser Valley. “When I was at the university, we had a strict rule: You never, ever bill for alcohol.”

He added that the public should “get our money back.”

He added that much more oversight is needed of spending at the legislature. Currently, the officials caught up in the spending scandal aren’t subject to Freedom of Information laws.

“This should be a lesson for all of us that we need greater accountability, greater oversight, meaningful oversight and meaningful transparency,” Plecas said.

“You only have to have a glance at that report to see that hasn’t happened at all … We’re the people’s house, we’re there on behalf of the people and it’s their right to have access to that information.”

Plecas said the report underscores the need for elected officials to have a “strong moral compass.”

Plecas also suggested his departure from the BC Liberals came, in part, because he was unwilling to stray from his moral compass. He said he took pride in having had previously received top-secret security clearance and said remaining as a BC Liberal would have jeopardized that.

“I knew if I continued what I was doing I might have to give it up … I’ll be quite blunt about that. That’s why I left the Liberal party.

“There are things that are required of people as a political party where it’s the party first and everything else second.”

Plecas also answered the question as to why he approved the expenses submitted by Lenz and James.

He said the situation was “outrageously complicated,” and that he needed to be able to show that there was a pattern of misspending, rather than individual and explainable mistakes.

By building the trust of Lenz and James and not calling them out immediately, he said he was able to fully understand what was going on.

”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.

“Certainly there’s no way that we would have got to where we are now if I would have said in the first instance, at the first sign of wrongdoing, if I would have raised the flag at that moment. That only came about by my having an opportunity over an extended period of time to see a multiplicity of things first-hand and, shall we say, be on side somewhat.”

Plecas said that he had to be careful speaking about the issue because it could affect the involvement of the police. But he added: “It’s not all that it seems when it appears I’ve signed off on certain things. It’s not quite like that. But for the moment again, I’m hoping people will do something differently than has happened over the last few months and cut me some slack in terms of where we want to be at the end zone here. The end game here is very clearly: We want to fundamentally change our concept of transparency and openness.”

RELATED: B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, personal expense claims

RELATED: Here’s what the B.C. legislature officers are accused of buying

RELATED: Why would the B.C. legislature need a firewood splitter?

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Rendering of the proposed residential and commercial building on the existing site of the Northern Junk buildings at 1314 and 1318 Wharf St. Victoria council sitting as committee of the whole voted May 6 to send the project to public hearing. (Courtesy City of Victoria)
Proposal for underutilized Victoria harbourfront site heading to public hearing

Northern Junk buildings would be incorporated into design of new structure

Oak Bay resident Hugh Thompson died Friday, May 7. (GoFundMe photo)
Oak Bay dad dies mountain biking near Shawnigan Lake

Community rallies around family with online fundraiser

(Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria police use bean bag round in arrest

Man arrested for assault with weapon, uttering threats

Test positivity rates in Greater Victoria from April 23 to 29. (BC CDC data)
Leaked data shows View Royal top of COVID-19 list for Greater Victoria

View Royal mayor says week was a blip for the township, not the norm

A member of the Downtown Victoria Business Association Clean Team works along Fort Street. The team will be working weekends from May through September, providing seven day a week coverage. (Photo courtesy DVBA)
Downtown Victoria cleanup service expanded for spring, summer

Clean Team members to patrol sidewalks seven days a week through September

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

The B.C. legislature went from 85 seats to 87 before the 2017 election, causing a reorganization with curved rows and new desks squeezed in at the back. The next electoral boundary review could see another six seats added. (Black Press files)
B.C. election law could add six seats, remove rural protection

North, Kootenays could lose seats as cities gain more

The Independent Investigations Office of B.C. is investigating the shooting of an Indigenous woman in the Ucluelet First Nation community of Hitacu. (Black Press Media file photo)
B.C. First Nation wants ‘massive change’ after its 3rd police shooting in less than a year

Nuu-chah-nulth woman recovering from gunshot wounds in weekend incident near Ucluelet

Nurse Gurinder Rai, left, administers the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine to Maria Yule at a Fraser Health drive-thru vaccination site, in Coquitlam, B.C., on Wednesday, May 5, 2021. The site is open for vaccinations 11 hours per day to those who have pre-booked an appointment. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
COVID vaccine bookings to open for adults 40+, or 18+ in hotspots, across B.C.

Only people who have registered will get their alert to book

Dr. Victoria Lee, CEO of Fraser Health, hosts an update on efforts to contain B.C.’s COVID-19 transmission in Surrey and the Fraser Valley and protect hospitals in the Lower Mainland, May 6, 2021. (B.C. government video)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate slowing, 20 more people die

Deaths include two people in their 40s, two in their 50s

The Canadian Forces Snowbirds are in the Comox Valley for their annual spring training. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Suspected bird strike on Snowbirds plane during training in Comox

Pilot followed protocols and landed the aircraft on the ground without any problems

BCIT. (Wikimedia Commons)
BCIT apologizes after employee’s ‘offensive and hurtful’ email leaked to Métis Nation

BCIT says employee’s conduct has been investigated and addressed

An adult male yellow-breasted chat is shown in this undatd photograph on lands protected in collaboration between the En’owkin Centre and Penticton Indian Band with support through ECCC. The rescue from near extinction for a little yellow bird hinges on the wild rose in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, a researcher says. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, A. Michael Bezener/ En’owkin Centre 2020 *MANDATORY CREDIT*
Rare yellow birds need wild roses to survive in British Columbia: researcher

The importance of local wild roses emerged over a nearly 20-year experiment

Most Read