B.C. Legislature tenders $100,000 spending scandal workplace review contract

Selected company will have to give criminal evidence to police

The company selected to do a B.C. Legislature workplace review in the wake of the recent spending scandal will have to give criminal evidence found to police, contract documents released Wednesday say.

The review comes after Speaker Darryl Plecas in two reports detailed the spending habits of former Clerk of the Legislative Assembly Craig James and Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz.

article continues below

When Plecas brought the allegations forward, James and Lenz were escorted from the building.

They remain subject to a police investigation following allegations last November from Speaker of the House Darryl Plecas that the two misused Legislative Assembly assets. Lenz remains under the RCMP probe but was informally cleared of any misconduct in a report by former Supreme Court of Canada chief justice Beverley McLachlin, which made no legal conclusions.

A proposed budget for the review is set at $100,000.

The clerk acts as the CEO of the Legislative precinct, while the sergeant-at-arms is responsible for its maintenance and security, as well as oversight of conduct by Legislature staff.

McLachlin found James also engaged in misconduct by charging travel expenses, such as two suits ($2,150), luggage ($2,135) and insurance premiums, to the Legislature.

James had contended in interviews with McLachlin that he was trying to update the Legislature’s dress policy and establish a “luggage bank” for MLAs. McLachlin didn’t accept the arguments.

McLachlin did allow for James’ explanations to purchase over $5,000 in electronics between April 2017 and July 2018. She noted the line between personal and business use “may be difficult to track.”

Further misconduct was found when James removed alcohol belonging to the Legislative Assembly. No repayment slips had been produced by James, noted McLachlin.

As for a much talked about wood splitter that was purchased on the recommendation of Lenz and James, McLachlin found that the purchase itself was not misconduct, but James taking it home and using it for personal use was.

After considering Plecas’ work, the Legislative Assembly Management Committee directed the acting clerk to develop a review framework.

The review, covering about 330 past and current employees, “is a broad environmental scan of a workplace used to assess the overall health of an organization,” documents said.

The results could be used to make recommendations for improved governance and accountability frameworks and for organizational improvement, the request for proposals (RFP) said.

But, the RFP stressed, the review would be done concurrently with and ongoing police investigation and a comprehensive auditor general’s probe.

“Proponents should be aware that any information that is received during the course of the workplace review in relation to an alleged criminal act will be referred to the police,” documents said. “Alleged unauthorized use or misuse of Legislative Assembly funds will be forwarded to the Office of the Auditor General of British Columbia.”

The paperwork also stressed dealing with evidence of harassment or bullying.

Documentation said the assembly understands a review would encompass:

• human resources policies and practices, including hiring, remuneration, training, performance management, and termination;

• department workplace environment, management and leadership, and culture, including standards of conduct and ethics;

• governance and accountability frameworks, including reporting structures and oversight, and;

•  steps to prepare for an organizational reconciliation program or process.

The work is set for a September start.

The premier’s office said an all-party committee would examine the review’s findings to identify potential next steps.

jhainsworth@glaciermedia.ca

© Copyright Bowen Island Undercurrent

Read more from the Glacier Media