B.C. legislative session ends under a ‘cloud’ of uncertainty with details still lacking into ongoing investigation
The fall B.C. legislative session is ending on Tuesday with still many questions about why clerk Craig James and sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz are on administrative leave and under police investigation.
Premier John Horgan’s session-ending news conference was dominated by questions about how the ongoing scandal has been handled.
“I want to assure people at home that although this is a very difficult time for all of us in the legislature we will get through this and we are hopeful that the investigation in whatever form it takes is completed as quickly as possible,” Horgan said.
On Tuesday, Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson attempted to introduce a motion to have a review of the November 20 unanimous vote that put James and Lenz on leave.
Wilkinson made the pitch that Speaker Darryl Plecas did not give all the information to MLAs, who were unaware that Alan Mullen, the Speaker’s adviser, was part of the investigation.
WATCH: (Nov. 26, 2018) Speaker Darryl Plecas has sharp words for media at B.C. legislature
The government shot down the motion. This means that Lenz and James are in limbo until the house returns in February, but will continue being paid while on leave.
LISTEN: The B.C. legislature is now on its Christmas break, ending one of the more unusual weeks on record with a police investigation underway into the – now suspended – clerk and sergeant-at-arms, but still no details on what is being investigated.
“Do I wish it was some other way? Of course I do,” Horgan said. “I have sympathy for both individuals. But I can’t comment beyond that.”
The Liberals supported the motion to put the two senior public servants on leave, but say they would have done it differently if they had the chance.
“There are a lot of open questions out there about the conduct in the Speaker’s office,” Wilkinson said. “We have made it pretty clear that we don’t have 600 lawyers like the government has and we expect them to have done the due diligence.”
Horgan says Plecas still has the confidence of the house and will continue to serve as Speaker.
On other issues, the premier says the LNG Canada final investment decision was a significant moment during the legislative session.
WATCH: (Aired Nov. 26, 2018) Liberals introduce their own ridesharing legislation
The deal is expected to be the subject of an event in Vancouver on Tuesday with provincial, federal and industry officials.
The $40-billion LNG megaproject would be the fastest route for gas from North America to Asia.
“It will mean jobs and economic activity, some $23 billion will come back to the treasury that we can put into the good services that the people want to see,” Horgan said.
The provincial government also passed legislation of ridesharing. The controversial rules provide additional powers to the Passenger Transportation Board, which can now control prices, regions of operations and the types of licences drivers need.
But Horgan said the Liberals were disingenuous in their attempt to introduce their own piece of legislation and that the former government delayed putting in the necessary pieces of legislation to allow companies like Uber and Lyft to operate.
“If we are going to have ride-hailing we need an insurance package that makes sense,” Horgan said. “I think based on the massive hole in the ICBC budget we have moved as swiftly as we could to bring ride-hailing forward.”
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