B.C. legislature Clerk Craig James (left) retired after accusations by Speaker Darryl Plecas. (The Canadian Press)

Legislature gifts, clothing, travel need better control, B.C. auditor says

Audit follows suspensions of managers by Speaker Darryl Plecas

Work is underway to tighten up spending policies at the B.C. legislature, as Auditor General Carol Bellringer completes the first of a series of reports on financial controls in the operation of the provincial government.

Travel, clothing and gift purchases need clearer policies, Bellringer says in a report released Thursday. It detailed that former legislature clerk Craig James charged $108,656 in travel costs for 14 out-of-province trips between April 2016 and December 2018.

“None of the clerk’s out-of-province travel had prior approval documented in the expense claims,” the report states.

Sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz, who continues on paid leave as police and special prosecutors investigate, had prior approval for two of 15 out-of-province trips, with $59,269 in expenses.

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Bellringer’s probe did not look at misconduct, which was addressed in a report by former Supreme Court of Canada chief justice Beverley McLachlin in May. She cleared Lenz of misconduct, but found James to have improperly claimed benefits and used legislature property for personal reasons.

James reached a “non-financial” settlement and retired with his public service pension and additional retirement allowance that was questioned by Plecas.

The committee of MLAs responsible for the $70 million budget of the B.C. legislature and constituency offices has already made changes, including travel, clothing and gift approval procedures.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

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