The legislature’s former sergeant-at-arms cannot be disciplined for a finding of discreditable conduct in a new report because he abruptly retired last week.
The NDP government house leader, Mike Farnworth, said there’s no ability to recover any salary, retirement, vacation or other benefits given to Gary Lenz when he was sergeant-at-arms. Lenz is accused in a new report of lying about his knowledge of missing liquor at the legislature and failing to investigate the incident.
“There’s employment law in the province, both provincial and national employment law, and what he’s entitled to are those benefits that are there under employment law and that’s it,” said Farnworth.
Lenz retired Oct. 1, allegedly after seeing an advance copy of the report. The report was made public Tuesday.
Lenz had been suspended with pay for almost a year during an RCMP investigation.
There does not appear to be an ability for the legislature to retroactively discipline Lenz or change his service record.
Municipal police officers who are found to have committed misconduct under the Police Act cannot escape discipline by retiring or resigning, and their service records are adjusted accordingly. But Lenz was a special constable, which is treated differently under the law.
Doug LePard, formerly chief of the Metro Vancouver Transit Police, had been commissioned by Speaker Darryl Plecas’s office to do an investigation of Lenz under B.C.’s Police Act. Lenz was a sworn special constable and head of the legislature’s security force.
Premier John Horgan admitted Wednesday he knew some of the allegations against clerk of the legislature Craig James and Lenz as early as the summer of 2018 because deputy speaker Raj Chouhan, an NDP MLA, told him about the case and asked him to meet with Plecas.
Horgan declined that meeting, fearing his personal dislike of the clerk would appear to make him biased. Horgan did not support James’ appointment as clerk several years earlier. Chief of staff Geoff Meggs had the meeting with Plecas instead.
Horgan’s admission he knew about legislature misspending allegations in the summer, and was later briefed on the Plecas report by Meggs in November, appeared to contradict comments he made at the time that he was in the dark about the case.
Horgan had previously claimed he didn’t know anything about the legislature scandal until Jan. 23, when Plecas made public his report about misspending allegations.
“The good news is I don’t know anything,” Horgan told reporters on Nov. 22. “And that is good news, because if there’s going to be an impartial investigation, it has to be conducted with the same rigour that is at any other place.”
Horgan argued Wednesday he was not briefed on the material directly and the management of the legislature is not his responsibility but falls to MLAs on the all-party legislative management committee.
James resigned in May. He was found to have committed workplace misconduct in an investigation by former chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada Beverley McLachlin.
Lenz was cleared by McLachlin and asked for his job back.
But Plecas launched the LePard probe instead. LePard concluded Lenz had lied to McLachlin over what he knew about $8,000 in missing liquor that James had loaded into his own pickup truck at the legislature in 2013.
Neither James nor Lenz has been charged with any crime.