Former speaker claims ‘Me Too’ allegations at B.C. legislature not properly investigated

British Columbia's auditor general says tighter rules on expenses for top officers at the legislature are needed following allegations of spending abuses made by Speaker Darryl Plecas earlier this year. Speaker Plecas answers questions from the media about the legislature suspensions of the Sergeant-at-Arms and clerk outside the house chambers at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, May 16, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito.

In one final shot across the bow, the now-former speaker of the B.C. legislature has released another report claiming that allegations of sexual harassment were not properly investigated.

In his 49-page report, released Friday, Darryl Plecas claimed that in February 2019, he provided a confidential memo to an all-party legislative committee informing it of allegations he “had received from a witness which raised ‘#MeToo‘ types of concerns.”

“Given the highly sensitive nature of the allegations, and the charged atmosphere in the aftermath of my first Report, I felt that (the committee) was best placed to consider this information, and act on it and that a #MeToo-style allegation involving the Legislative Assembly deserved a cross-party response,” he wrote.

“As far as I am aware, neither the allegations, nor my memorandum, have been investigated or acted upon to date.”

Click to play video: 'Focus BC: Chaos at the B.C. legislature'
Focus BC: Chaos at the B.C. legislature

B.C. Government House Leader, and committee member, Mike Farnworth says he has not seen Plecas’ latest report nor has he seen a copy of the document the former speaker mentions in the report. Farnworth says he will be reviewing the latest report now and the allegations in it.

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“The very idea that we would be told there was a “#MeToo” event, serious allegations, and it was ignored I just don’t accept that one bit. We take it very seriously,” Farnworth said.

“We would take any allegations extremely seriously.”

The committee also included MLAs Janet Routledge, Garry Begg, Sonia Furstenau, Jackie Tegart and Mary Polak.

Plecas’ term as speaker was at times chaotic and controversial.

The now-former MLA for Abbotsford South suddenly quit the BC Liberal caucus in 2017 to serve as the legislature’s speaker in Premier John Horgan’s new NDP-Green coalition government.

Not even 18 months into the job, he and his chief of staff, Alan Mullen, produced a shocking report on allegations of misspending and misconduct at the legislature that ultimately led to a police investigation into then-clerk Craig James and then-sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz.

Both officials have since retired while the police investigations continue.

Read more: The top 10 standout expenses from Darryl Plecas’ report looking into the clerk and sergeant-at-arms

In this week’s report, Plecas did not give any further details about the sexual misconduct allegations.

He went on to say that the legislative assembly has yet to undertake a “necessary” organizational workplace review that he said has been “calling for since January 2019.”

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“Numerous whistleblowers claimed they lost their jobs at the Legislative Assembly for unfair or punitive reasons, including because they attempted to alert others to some of the misconduct by senior officials which was highlighted in my Reports,” Plecas wrote.

“The urgent need to address wrongdoing of the kind I brought to light – and not just the specific instances, but the root conditions which permitted them to happen – should not be a controversial proposition. But as I try to explain in this Report, at every turn, I ran up against an institutional mindset which was unwilling to take on cultural issues involving the Legislative Assembly.”

His successor, MLA Raj Chouhan, was named speaker earlier this week under Horgan’s new majority government.

– More to come

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