B.C. Legislature Speaker Darryl Plecas says there will be no comment on his chief of staff’s road-trip tour of provincial and U.S. state legislatures until a report to the MLA committee is made this fall.
Plecas was responding to the latest questions from the B.C. Liberal opposition about Alan Mullen’s tour of the Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario legislatures to look at their security arrangements. The road trip cost $13,000, returning on the U.S. side with visits scheduled to state legislatures in Wisconsin, Iowa, Montana, Idaho, Oregon and Washington.
“Any further information on this matter will be presented to LAMC [the Legislative Assembly Management Committee] once the report is complete,” Plecas told Black Press in an email. “I expect that will be towards the end of September.”
Langley MLA Mary Polak, the B.C. Liberal house leader, sent a letter to Plecas this week, asking if appointments were confirmed before the trip began. She said Plecas has provided no answers to committee members a month after they asked for a detailed itinerary.
“It is absolutely unacceptable that LAMC should learn about the costs of this road trip from media reports,” Polak said. “Worse still, we now know that the Speaker’s hand-picked staffer didn’t even meet with the Speaker or Sergeant at Arms in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba or Ontario. Frankly, without a detailed itinerary we have no idea what he was actually doing.”
Polak’s letter also asks if driving across the country was the least expensive option, and whether Mullen made the trip alone.
Mullen has been a controversial addition to Plecas’s office since he was brought in to help investigate spending and travel practices of senior B.C. legislature staff. Former Clerk Craig James and Sergeant at Arms Gary Lenz were suspended from their jobs last fall, and James took early retirement after Plecas released a report in January detailing trips to
England, Scotland and Seattle, and questionable purchases including clothing, gifts and a wood splitter.
Lenz remains on paid leave, after former Supreme Court of Canada chief justice Beverley MacLachlin cleared him of any improper activities.
The B.C. Prosecution Service appointed two special prosecutors on Oct. 1, 2018 to look into the billings and activities of James and Lenz. Since then Auditor General Carol Bellringer has begun a review of the B.C. legislature’s $70 million annual operating budget, which includes security and operation of 60 MLA constituency offices around the province.