January 23, 2019 3:51 pm
Updated: January 24, 2019 3:39 pm

Green Party leader Andrew Weaver calls for MLA Linda Reid to step down as assistant deputy speaker

(Aired Jan. 22) One of the whistleblowers quoted in the report says the culture of spending at the legislature is all too common. Richard Zussman has more on the fallout from the bombshell investigation.

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Green Party leader Andrew Weaver is calling for MLA Linda Reid to step aside as assistant deputy speaker of the B.C. legislature. Citing the Global News exclusive that unveiled allegations that Reid filed improper expenses, Weaver says he has lost trust in the long-time politician.

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“Last night one of the key whistleblowers referenced in speaker Darryl Plecas’ report about fiscal wrongdoing in the B.C. legislature came forward publicly to shed light on the culture of entitlement that he allegedly witnessed,” Weaver said. “Our focus at this time must be on restoring public trust in our democratic institutions. I cannot see how that is possible when one of the individuals named by this whistleblower is still holding a position of power and oversight in the legislature.”

READ MORE: Whistleblower alleges legislature expense issues beyond clerk and sergeant-at-arms

That whistleblower, Connor Gibson, says he was was asked by Reid to file both taxi receipts and vehicle mileage for the same trip.

On Wednesday Reid responded to the allegations. She says Gibson never came to her with concerns and that during her time as speaker she was the most transparent speaker in the province’s history. Reid served in the role from 2013 to 2017.

“My track record has been clean through out the process,” Reid said. “I would never knowingly claim for anything I am not entitled to.”

WATCH: Global News exclusive with whistleblower from legislature scandal report

Gibson said the reason he is speaking out is because he thinks Reid should resign, not just as deputy speaker, but as an MLA.

“I think that for many years there have been issues raised about her expenses. Knowing what I know about her expenses I think she should resign,” Gibson said.

Gibson added he met Plecas’ special adviser Alan Mullen and raised his concerns with him about the expenses.

LISTEN: Andrew Weaver calls for Linda Reid to step aside:

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READ MORE: B.C. Speaker says he did everything linked to senior staff being put on leave ‘perfectly’

The whistleblower worked for various MLAs starting in February, 2018, and was not kept on when the legislative session ended in May 2018.

Lenz and now-acting sergeant-at-arms Randy Ennis met with Gibson. As the report details “Mr. Lenz remarked that he thought a forensic audit was needed as there was ‘RPG’ [which is police jargon for ‘reasonable and probable grounds’].”

In the end, Lenz and Ennis concluded there were “one or two” claims of taxis and mileage at the same time “but the rest were explainable.”

READ MORE: Speaker Darryl Plecas accuses senior staff of ‘overspending,’ stealing alcohol and ‘unjustified terminations’

Legislature clerk Craig James and sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz are being accused of lacking oversight for millions of dollars and being in charge of “unjustified terminations.”

Speaker Darryl Plecas released his report Monday alleging that Lenz and James participated in “flagrant overspending on luxurious trips overseas with questionable business rationales” and “expensing of all manner of personal purchases to the legislative assembly totaling tens of thousands of dollars over a period of less than two years.”

LISTEN: B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson says that there are three things he would like to see the government do to address the expenses scandal at the legislature. 

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Weaver says restoring public trust must be every MLA’s priority at this moment in time. Reid is the longest serving member of the legislature and served as speaker in the B.C. legislature from 2013 to 2017.

“Positions such as assistant deputy speaker have an even higher threshold for trust given the responsibility they hold in serving the entire legislature,” Weaver said. “I do not ask for this lightly. MLA Reid is the longest serving member of the legislature. However, in light of the numerous and serious allegations of the speaker’s report, as well as the candor of this key whistleblower, I feel strongly that it is inappropriate for MLA Reid to continue to serve as assistant deputy speaker until such a time that these allegations can be fully addressed.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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