January 28, 2019 10:56 pm
Updated: January 29, 2019 2:09 am

B.C. government has little power for legislature oversight: Premier Horgan

WATCH: Global News hears from former deputy speaker Richard T. Lee for the first time since the release of the Plecas report. Paul Johnson has more.

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VANCOUVER – British Columbia Premier John Horgan says a recent report alleging spending abuses by the clerk and sergeant-at-arms raises concerns about a broader culture of “entitlement” in the legislature, but there isn’t much he can do as premier.

Horgan said the Speaker and a management committee are responsible for the legislature, while as premier he is head of the government. All the government can do is pass legislation to increase oversight, he said.

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“I appreciate this sounds odd but it’s just the way it is,” he told reporters Monday.

“I raised these issues five, six years ago, when I was on the Legislative Assembly Management Committee. I said, ‘Why are these two guys exempt? Why are they not covered by any of the oversight that anybody else is?’ ”

The committee, chaired by the Speaker and made up of the three house leaders and other legislature members, is responsible for the financial accounting of the legislature.

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Speaker Darryl Plecas released a report last week that alleged clerk Craig James and sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz overspent on trips, purchased personal items at taxpayers’ expense, and misappropriated alcohol and equipment. James and Lenz were placed on administrative leave in November during an ongoing police investigation. Both men deny any wrongdoing and say the allegations will be proven untrue.

Horgan, a New Democrat, said the previous Liberal government ignored the concerns he raised on the committee. He said the allegations in the report by Plecas “absolutely” raise concerns about the culture of the legislature.

When James was appointed clerk, the Opposition NDP voted against it because there was no process and no competition, Horgan said. The Liberals had previously “arbitrarily” installed James as chief electoral officer, he added.

© 2019 The Canadian Press

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