There has rarely been a week in B.C. political history as dramatic as the one that just unfolded. It is still unclear what the allegations are that led to clerk Craig James and sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz being escorted from the legislature and put on administrative leave.
The pair are being investigated by the RCMP and a pair of special prosecutors have been brought in. The Speaker’s office has been investigating for months and there are now questions about whether they had the constitutional right to do so.
“I want to reiterate how troubling this must be for British Columbians to hear of confusion and chaos in our legislative assembly,” B.C. premier John Horgan said.
Here is a timeline of what unfolded his week.
Monday, November 19, 8:00 p.m.: NDP House Leader Mike Farnworth, Liberal House Leader Mary Polak and Green party House Leader Sonia Furstenau met with Speaker Darryl Plecas in his office. Plecas informed the house leaders that clerk Craig James and sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz were under investigation and two special prosecutors had been put in place. The group was asked to put forward a motion that would put Lenz and James on administrative leave.
Tuesday, November 20, 11:07 a.m.: Farnworth stands up in the B.C. Legislature, his hands shaking, and reads a motion to put Lenz and James on leave. At the same time, the two high ranking public servants are receiving the news from Plecas that they are on leave and must turn over their phones and keys.
Tuesday, November 20, 11:14 a.m.: A shocked James speaks to reporters outside his office, holding his personal effects in his arms. James tells reporters he had no idea why he was under investigation. The clerk was then escorted out of the building accompanied by a Victoria police officer. Lenz, who had already been escorted out, was waiting in his vehicle and the two left the legislature grounds.
WATCH HERE: Clerk of the house Craig James escorted from B.C. legislature
Tuesday, November 20, 12:18 p.m.: Special adviser to the Speaker, Alan Mullen, tells reporters that Lenz and James are under “criminal investigation” and says he doesn’t want to jeopardize the ongoing investigation.
Tuesday, November 20, 12:59 p.m.: Horgan is asked by reporters about the investigation. Horgan says, “I don’t have much to say,” and hopes the investigation is wrapped up quickly.
WATCH HERE: Premier John Horgan reacts to criminal investigation of two B.C. legislature officials
Tuesday, November 20, 1:29 p.m.: RCMP spokesperson Janelle Shoihet confirms the RCMP have an “active investigation” underway but that the Mounties are “not in the position to provide any other details or specifics.” Shoihet also mentions the RCMP sought “the appointment of a Special Prosecutor.”
Tuesday, November 20, 2:12 p.m.: The B.C. Prosecution Service announces that two special prosecutors, David Butcher and Brock Martland, have been appointed to provide “legal assistance and advice to the RCMP in relations to the ongoing investigation being conducted into the activities of senior staff at the British Columbia Legislature.”
For the first time it is revealed publicly that the RCMP requested the assistance on Sept. 28, and on Oct. 1 Butcher and Martland were appointed to the role.
Wednesday, November 21, 12:30 p.m.: Special adviser Alan Mullen tells reporters that he has been working on the investigation from within the Speaker’s office since January and that the allegations were one of the reasons why he was hired by Plecas. Mullen says the allegations are “serious” and the goal is “greater transparency.”
Wednesday, November 21, 1:03 p.m.: Attorney General David Eby is asked about the specifics of the ongoing investigations and says he can’t comment.
Wednesday, November 21, 3:06 p.m.: Mullen speaks to reporters again telling the press gallery that he turned over information gathered to the RCMP in August. He says he has worked with Plecas in the past at the Kent Institution and that the pair are friends.
WATCH HERE: Special investigator Alan Mullen holds B.C. legislature investigation update
Wednesday, November 21, 3:52 p.m.: The RCMP sends an updated statement to the media saying that an investigative team had been assigned to handle the file. The Mounties acknowledge concerns about “limited” information being provided explaining that “investigational process” had to take place.
Thursday, November 22, 9:32 a.m.: BC Liberal House Leader Mary Polak presents a sworn affidavit that stated Plecas wanted to appoint his friend Alan Mullen as the acting sergeant-at-arms.
“In that meeting Darryl Plecas stated his wish that Alan Mullen be appointed as acting sergeant-at-arms of the legislature after the departure of Gary Lenz in that position,” said Polak. “Our response was no quite firmly.”
WATCH HERE: Liberal MLA Mary Polak makes sworn declaration about on-going investigation at B.C. legislature
Thursday, November 22, 11:00 a.m.: Plecas is swarmed by reporters outside his office at the B.C. legislature. In a short exchange he tells reporters that they do not “have the correct story” and promises to provide more details to reporters in the afternoon.
Thursday, November 22, 11:13 a.m.: Farnworth confirms to reporters that Plecas asked for Mullen to be appointed as acting sergeant-at-arms and that it “was a firm no.” Farnworth says the Speaker’s office will receive additional resources.
Thursday, November 22, 12:32 p.m.: Horgan speaks to the media following an announcement on energy efficient homes. He says that he doesn’t believe the Speaker’s future is in doubt and that he was not briefed about Plecas’ request to have Mullen fill in as the sergeant-at-arms.
WATCH HERE: B.C. legislature mystery deepens
Thursday, November 22, 1:59 p.m.: Plecas tells reporters he will not be coming back to make a statement. Instead Mullen will provide an update to reporters.
Thursday, November 22, 2:22 p.m.: Mullen emerges from the Speaker’s office. Does not take any questions and tells reporters that former Attorney General Wally Oppal has been hired as a second special adviser to the Speaker to provide legal advice.
WATCH HERE: Focus BC: November 23, 2018
Friday, November 23, 11:44 a.m.: A letter is released to the media from the lawyers representing James and Lenz. Lawyer Mark Andrews makes the case that his clients did nothing wrong, that they still didn’t know why they were under investigation and that the Speaker’s office had “no constitutional authority” to carry out an investigation.
Andrews asks the house leaders to rescind the motion putting the pair on administrative leave but says his clients will go along with the investigation.
Friday, November 23, 3:00 p.m.: Liberal House Leader Mary Polak sends a letter to Speaker Darryl Plecas requesting an emergency meeting of the Legislative Assembly Management Committee as soon as possible. The committee is responsible for the way in which the legislature operates.
Friday, November 23, 4:34 p.m.: NDP House Leader Mike Farnworth responds to the letter from the lawyers for James and Lenz.
“The motion was approved unanimously by every member of the legislature. The decision to bring the motion before the House was made by all three House Leaders,” reads the statement. “This is a serious matter and the appropriate course of action for all is to refrain from speculation and allow the police to do their job.”