Log splitter bought and expensed to the B.C. legislature, seized by police from clerk Craig James’ home and returned to the legislature precinct. A utility trailer bought around the same time appeared in the legislature parking lot with no explanation soon after. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Log splitter bought and expensed to the B.C. legislature, seized by police from clerk Craig James’ home and returned to the legislature precinct. A utility trailer bought around the same time appeared in the legislature parking lot with no explanation soon after. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

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

First sign of police involvement in investigation of top managers

One of the oddities in Speaker Darryl Plecas’ report on spending practices by top managers at the B.C. legislature is the purchase of a $3,200 log splitter, a hydraulic press for cutting firewood.

Purchased at around the same time as a lift-equipped utility trailer costing more than $10,000, plus insurance, documents show the splitter was picked by legislature clerk Craig James and delivered to his home on Oct. 27, 2017.

The report includes invoices for the utility trailer and the splitter, with a notation it was ordered by a legislature facilities employee and “picked up by Craig.” The invoices and expense claims are included as exhibits in the report tabled by Plecas Monday to the committee of MLAs that oversees the $70 million operating budget of the legislature and constituency offices around the province.

Also released is a Dec. 3 letter from a lawyer representing James and legislature sergeant at arms Gary Lenz, confirming that James had been “holding the log splitter” because he believed there wasn’t room to store it on the B.C. legislature grounds. James and Lenz retained lawyers from Fasken Martineau DuMoulin in Vancouver, and a public relations firm, to represent them after they were abruptly marched out of the legislature by Victoria police in late November.

The lawyer wrote that James and Lenz “wish to return such items, and obtain their own property,” including credit cards, left behind when they were escorted off the property and told not to return until given permission.

RELATED: Investigation into legislature officers began in January

VIDEO: B.C. legislature administrators suspended, police investigate

Both the trailer and splitter have been returned to the legislature grounds, with the splitter showing paint wear from being used. Plecas reported “the RCMP intervened” and seized the splitter. The trailer showed up in the parking lot “without any indication of how it arrived there,” the report says.

Plecas says he asked about the splitter and was told it was to cut up a fallen tree “if a crisis situation befell the legislature grounds.” Plecas rejected that suggestion, saying if such a thing happened and local firefighters couldn’t deal with it, “a chainsaw and axe would appear to suffice.”

“That supposed rationale is surprising given the size of the legislature precinct,” Plecas’ report says. “And if there was indeed no space to store it, then that begs the question of why it was purchased.”

Legislature veterans know there are two wood-burning fireplaces in the building, one in the speaker’s office and one in the clerk’s office. The ornate 1890-era limestone structure is primarily heated by hot water radiators fed by an offsite boiler, including those two offices.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

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

Just Posted

Gabriel Swift, 23, is one of three Victoria filmmakers chosen to receive $20,000 Telus Storyhive grants to produce Local Heroes documentaries. (Courtesy of Gabriel Swift)
Three Victoria filmmakers producing ‘local heroes’ documentaries with $20,000 grants

Telus Storyhive providing $20,000 to 40 Western Canada productions

Goldstream Food Bank president Gayle Ireland is the Goldstream Gazette’s 2021 Local Hero as Community Volunteer of the Year. (Don Denton/Black Press Media)
Two-week stint at Goldstream Food Bank turns into 35 years of volunteer service

Goldstream Food Bank’s Gayle Ireland is the 2021 Community Volunteer of the Year

Council has recommended that the Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch (LCRB) approve a cannabis retail application by Buds Cannabis. It plans to open the store in the 9700-block of Second Street. It would be the business’ second outlet (it has an outlet in Central Saanich) and the second such business in Sidney. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Sidney recommends approval of licence for second pot shop

Councillors also push back against public concerns about Sidney’s image

From right: Brad Cameron, BCEHS superintendent of patient care delivery for Greater Victoria, with primary care paramedics Em Funk, Tyrone Trotter, Fiona Galvin and Peter Hill at the Leigh Road station. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore paramedics didn’t waver when faced with COVID-19 pandemic

B.C. Emergency Health Services personnel are this year’s Courage and Bravery Award recipients

February is Black History Month. (Photo: Government of Canada)
Camosun College highlighting Black content with research guide during Black History Month

The collection includes a range of works by Black authors and creators

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Staff from the Marine Mammal Rescue Centre, passersby, RCMP and Nanaimo Fire Rescue carried a sick 300-kilogram steller sea lion up the steep bluff at Invermere Beach in north Nanaimo in an attempt to save the animal’s life Thursday. (Photo courtesy Marine Mammal Rescue Centre)
300-kilogram sea lion muscled up from B.C. beach in rescue attempt

Animal dies despite efforts of Nanaimo marine mammal rescue team, emergency personnel and bystanders

Doctors and counsellors warn of an increase in panic attacks, anxiety, depression and suicide ideas between ages 10 to 14, in Campbell River. ( Black Press file photo)
Extended pandemic feeding the anxieties of B.C.’s youth

Parents not sure what to do, urged to reach out for help

Gina Adams as she works on her latest piece titled ‘Undying Love’. (Submitted photo)
‘Toothless’ the kitty inspires B.C. wood carver to break out the chainsaw

Inspired by plight of a toothless cat, Gina Adams offers proceeds from her artwork to help animals

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson presents bill to delay B.C.’s budget as late as April 30, and allow further spending before that, B.C. legislature, Dec. 8, 2020. (Hansard TV)
How big is B.C.’s COVID-19 deficit? We’ll find out April 20

More borrowing expected as pandemic enters second year

The first of 11 Dash 8 Q400 aircraft's have arrived in Abbotsford. Conair Group Inc. will soon transform them into firefighting airtankers. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Conair begins airtanker transformation

Aerial firefighting company creating Q400AT airtanker in advance of local forest fire season

The Canada Revenue Agency says there were 32 tax fraud convictions across the country between April 2019 and March 2020. (Pixabay)
Vancouver man sentenced to 29 months, fined $645K for tax evasion, forgery

Michael Sholz reportedly forged documents to support ineligible tax credits linked to homeownership

Then-Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson looks on as MLA Shirley Bond answers questions during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria. (Chad Hipolito / THE CANADIAN PRESS)
B.C. Liberal party to choose next leader in February 2022

Candidates have until Nov. 30 to declare whether they are running

After nearly 10 months of investigations, Mounties have made an arrest in the tripping of an elderly woman in Burnaby this past April. (RCMP handout)
VIDEO: Mounties charge suspect for tripping elderly woman near Metrotown in April

32-year-old Hayun Song is accused of causing bodily harm to an 84-year-old using her walker

Most Read