B.C. Speaker says he did everything linked to senior staff being put on leave ‘perfectly’
Embattled B.C. Speaker Darryl Plecas broke his silence on Thursday afternoon in spectacular fashion about what happened to lead clerk Craig James and sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz to be put on administration leave.
Clashing with MLAs and lashing out at the media, Plecas would not speak about the specific allegations, but said he was provided information near the beginning of his tenure as Speaker that was ‘very serious’ in nature about activities that were taking place within the legislature.
“When I learned of this information I felt a great duty to safeguard the integrity of this institution,” Plecas said in front of the Legislative Assembly Management Committee.
“Be very mindful of why we are all here, and that is to make sure that public dollars are sent properly. In order to protect this institution and its fundamental operations it was imperative to me to act on information that was before me. In the period that followed I gave very careful consideration to this information.”
Plecas was questioned extensively in the committee meeting by Liberal house leader Mary Polak. Polak was inquiring whether there should be concerns that the legislature’s financial books are in order before the committee signs off on them.
WATCH: ‘I have a very good working relationship with the speaker’: Lenz
During Thursday’s meeting Plecas called for a full forensic audit of his own office and the offices of the clerk and the sergeant-at-arms.
“I am completely confident — completely confident — that those audits will show that we have a lot of work to do here. And if the outcome of those audits did not outrage the public, did not outrage taxpayers, did not make them throw up — I will resign as speaker,” Plecas said.
“That ought to be enough for you to say we are on to something here and it needs to be fixed.”
There have been very few answers as to why Lenz and James were put on leave last month and escorted by police from the B.C. legislature.
Lenz and James have said they have done nothing wrong and have not yet been told what they are accused of doing.
WATCH: Speaker Darryl Plecas has sharp words for media at B.C. legislature
Polak also pressed Plecas on whether he had the right to conduct an investigation into James and Lenz from the Speaker’s office, and the role of special adviser Alan Mullen. The Speaker told the committee he never conducted an investigation.
“Nothing, nothing, nothing could be further from the truth,” said Plecas.
“I am not asking you to take my word for it. At the end of the day, I am sure that the RCMP and special prosecutors will jump forward and tell you he wasn’t investigating. They will also likely tell you that everything I did leading up to handing over information was done not well, but perfectly.”
Speaking to reporters following the committee meeting, Polak said she had never seen a meeting like this before.
The Speaker promised to have another meeting in January where he plans on providing additional information about the allegations against James and Lenz.
“On the one hand, we are told none of these things can be asked in public and then a few short moments later the Speaker launches into a description that should concern everyone about the nature of the concerns that he had,” Polak said.
“If these things are so serious they will make you throw up, they will make you vomit, then we shouldn’t have to wait until January.”
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.