B.C. Premier John Horgan takes questions at the B.C. legislature, Jan. 20, 2019. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Premier John Horgan says B.C. auditor should tackle legislature scandal

B.C. Liberal leader calls for cooperation, foreign travel ban

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson’s offer of a non-partisan effort to clean up the B.C. legislature’s finances was quickly rejected by Premier John Horgan.

“The leader of the opposition called the speaker a rogue and out of control,” Horgan told reporters Thursday.

Horgan acknowledged that secret spending by legislature officers goes back to Social Credit governments, and Speaker Darryl Plecas was unique as an independent in being able to expose it in a report he released Monday. He agreed with Wilkinson that “going to England to buy a hat,” one of the lavish trips documented by Plecas, is something that needs to stop, but said the mostly inactive all-party management committee of MLAs is the way to do that.

Wilkinson called Thursday for an immediate ban on foreign travel, after Clerk of the House Craig James, Sergeant at Arms Gary Lenz and Plecas visited Britain and China with little but lavish expense claims to show for it. One trip to Britain featured a limousine ride to St. Andrew’s golf club in Scotland, where a highlight was shopping in the gift shop.

Horgan also supported Wilkinson’s call that B.C. Auditor General Carol Bellringer is independent and should lead the review. The committee has called for an outside auditor, causing Bellringer to ask why she was sidelined on detailed spending records that she was not given access to previously.

RELATED: B.C. legislature speaker calls for ‘justice’ for fired employees

RELATED: Legislature managers accused of cash payouts, overseas trips

Horgan also supported Wilkinson’s call that B.C. Auditor General Carol Bellringer is independent and should lead the review. The committee initially called for an outside auditor, causing Bellringer to ask MLAs why she was sidelined on detailed spending records that she was not given access to previously.

Former auditor-general John Doyle blew the whistle on MLA spending in 2012, resulting in a new system to report their expenses publicly and regularly. But the speaker, clerk and sergeant at arms were not included, until November when Plecas arranged for Lenz and James to be suspended and called in police to investigate.

Horgan joked about the more outrageous spending revealed by Plecas, including a wood splitter and “cufflinks from London” that were detailed in expense claims. But he and Wilkinson agreed that taxpayers are disgusted and disillusioned by what has been revealed.

“The notion that staff in this place were asked by their superiors to unload a liquor cabinet and take liquor offsite is offensive and potentially criminal,” Horgan said. “And that’s why we need to also be reminded that there is a criminal investigation underway, and not one but two special prosecutors.”


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Federal government actions hurt Sooke hatchery fundraising efforts

Funding denial comes on the heels of fishing closures

Stop work order at Sooke salmon hatchery devastates volunteers

CRD steps in as some volunteers give up their efforts

Oak Bay researcher’s Canadian English dictionary goes to print

How an unknown American hobbyist sparked a Canadian dictionary

Jesse Roper learns to create fire in the wild, in Sacred Knowledge web series

Ragnarock Studios production shares primitive skills with Islanders

Island athlete goes from hoop dreams to icy track

Cyrus Gray hopes to punch his ticket to Olympics in bobsleigh

Police release photos of suspect in daytime sex assault at Vancouver woman’s home

A young woman, in hers 20s, was followed home by the man, before he violently attacked her inside

Raptors beat Bucks 100-94 to advance to franchise’s first-ever NBA Finals

Leonard has 27 points, 17 boards to lead Toronto past Milwaukee

Third person charged in death of B.C. teen Bhavkiran Dhesi

Inderdeep Kaur Deo facing charge of accessory after the fact to murder

SOOKE HISTORY: Pemberton Pool namesake remains a mystery

Historian believes it was possibly named after surveyor Joseph Despard Pemberton

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

‘I think he’s still alive’: B.C. mom pleads for help finding son last seen a month ago

Family offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Tim Delahaye

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

Local politicians shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijabs, crucifixes or turbans on the job, survey suggests

Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

Raptors currently lead the playoff series 3-2, and a win Saturday would vault them into NBA finals

PHOTOS: First responders in Fernie rescue baby owl who fell from nest

The baby owl’s inability to fly back to its nest prompted a rescue by first responders

Most Read