Voters in B.C. needed a clear and authoritative examination of the legislature spending scandal, and former chief justice Beverley McLachlin has delivered.
Now it’s up to our MLAs to ensure that much-needed oversight is put in place and to change the culture of entitlement that was allowed to run amok.
Last year, Speaker Darryl Plecas had clerk Craig James and sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz removed from the legislature precinct and made allegations of outrageous spending abuses. While McLachlin cleared Lenz of misconduct, she found that four of five administrative allegations against James were substantiated.
She found that James’s expense claims for suits and luggage and the special financial benefits he arranged for himself were as unjustified as they appeared to ordinary British Columbians.
James retired the day the report was released, but he gets to keep the money. While voters might find that settlement offensive, there is nothing we can do about it now.
What we can do is insist that the legislature follow McLachlin’s recommendations to make it crystal clear who has authority over legislature staff and how those staff are expected to behave, particularly when it comes to taxpayers’ money.
Tens of thousands of public servants work tirelessly and ethically on our behalf. Those same values must be followed behind the scenes at the legislature.