Liberal MLA Linda Reid stepped down as assistant deputy Speaker following allegations by a whistleblower that she double-dipped on vehicle expenses.
However, B.C. Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson insisted Reid’s expenses were fine, saying she stepped down because “it’s impossible for an assistant deputy Speaker to continue working with someone who has made unfounded allegations against her.”
Speaker Darryl Plecas’s allegations of misspending by two senior legislative officers included a reference to an unnamed MLA, later identified by a whistleblower as Reid.
Plecas said the former legislature staffer was fired for raising concerns about double-dipping by an MLA who allegedly filed both mileage claims and taxi expenses for the same trip.
Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver had called for Reid to step down as a result of the allegations.
However, suspended sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz wrote in his response, which was leaked to the Vancouver Sun last week, that Reid did not double-dip and that she took a taxi to the Helijet terminal in Vancouver, then drove her vehicle from the Victoria terminal to the legislature.
“The only accusation in that report came in an unfounded way from a former employee, who was not terminated, an allegation that’s false, with some duplicate [vehicle] charges and in fact that was false,” Wilkinson said.
Reid did not respond to questions from journalists as she left the legislature after the throne speech Tuesday.
Weaver said he’s pleased Reid chose to step aside, noting that beyond the issues with her expenses, she presided as Speaker when much of the alleged overspending by Lenz and clerk Craig James took place.
“Frankly, I think she had no choice and the fact that it took so long is a little discouraging,” Weaver said. “It would be impossible for her to continue in the role as assistant deputy Speaker having confidence of the house while these allegations are before us.”
Premier John Horgan deflected questions about Reid, saying they’re better answered by the Liberals.
Coquitlam-Burke Mountain Liberal MLA Joan Isaacs will take Reid’s place as assistant deputy Speaker, with unanimous support from MLAs.
Reid served as Speaker of the B.C. legislature from 2013 to 2017. In 2014, she came under fire for billing taxpayers for tens of thousands of dollars in expenses, including more than $48,000 for a custom touch-screen computer terminal in the legislature chamber, almost $14,000 for new drapes at the legislature dining room, and a $733 muffin cart.