How a woodsplitter became the new standard for entitlement & corruption in BC politics


UK  /ɪnˈtaɪ.təld/ US  /ɪnˈtaɪ.t̬əld/

feeling that you have the right to do or have what you want without having to work for it or deserve it, just because of who you are


cor·​rup·​tion | \ kə-ˈrəp-shən  \

Definition of corruption

1a: dishonest or illegal behavior especially by powerful people (such as government officials or police officers) : DEPRAVITY


b: inducement to wrong by improper or unlawful means (such as bribery)the corruption of government officials

Having had a good read of the Plecas report last night, followed by a good sleep if not a short one, thinking of everything going on in BC politics, I think its time to talk about a few things on my mind.

First, I want to talk about why I posted the quote at the top of this post. It’s incredibly relevant to BC politics and how critics of the past and current government are treated. You’ve got to develop a thick skin as a blogger, and an even thicker one as a columnist,I discovered back before I quit writing my weekly column. I’m pretty certain people like Norm Farrell, Dermod Travis and independent journalist Bob Mackin will agree, because often the immediate fallback of government and government boosters is to deny, deflect and then discredit. 

“He or she has a political agenda” ” blah blah, conspiracy theorist” ” Out of control” and even worse: “He or she is just crazy..” …followed by private dm’s or whispered comments about mental health, drinking or as one person recently commented here on a prior corruption blog post, caught up in conspiracy theories due to excessive pot smoking…(seriously??)  ( Also, that’s not to say there aren’t people out there like that, however it’s generally not difficult to differentiate between them)

I’ve experienced it. I’ve seen it happen to other writers and journo’s, publicly on social media and privately. And along with the corruption that we so clearly know is occuring in this province now, it is not limited to any one party or their time in government, it transcends them. It’s most commonly used as a strategy to silence or discredit whistleblowers of any kind. 

We also saw this happen with Plecas and Mullen, who were attacked voraciously by every single BC Liberal booster along with BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson and his fellow Liberal mla’s.  Regardless of what anyone thinks of Plecas or Mullen as individuals, it is truthful to say there was a deliberate attempt to discredit both men, by people inside and outside the legislature…..

And looking back at their behavior now, we know why they tried so hard to discredit them and push for his resignation. Shameful. 

How many men and women have been labelled crazy just because they got too close to figuring out someone elses bullshit? Whistleblowers, potential whistleblowers, employees put into untenable and unconscionable situations by those acting in unethical, and at times illegal manners. ( This is why BC needs strong whistleblower legislation)

This needs to stop.  

It won’t of course, but right now all those in opposition AND in media who attacked Plecas and Mullen are looking like fools. You have the right to remain silent Andrew Wilkinson… and sometimes you should.

Now, onto the next issue I want to talk about, which is how the hell did all this get through the allegedly improved processes in the legislature?

Seeing a lack of context and surprise among many last year when this story first broke, I compiled a bit of history on the dreadful legislative accounting practices for those not aware of how badly they were handled in the past… and how long it took for anyone to do anything about it:

Let’s go back to the past to understand a bit more about how our Legislative Assemblys financial affairs have been handled for years… and how BC mla’s ignored warnings for years that conditions for … gasp.. fraud and theft were ripe in our most respected institution, before finally acting to fix things. 
In 2012, Craig James made the news for his lavish expenses, that Dermod Travis of Integrity BC discovered via FOI:
It was following that debacle that it was revealed by a scathing 2012 Auditor Generals audit, that legislative affairs were a mess. Lack of bank reconciliations. No receipts. Expenses from one year classed into another. The full details are here:
And ironically,  this wasn’t a new thing – the Auditor Generals office had
recommended way back in 2007, that the Legislature provide  publicly available audited financial reports, and improve internal controls to prevent fraud and misappropriation of public funds…. and it never happened. For 5 years after that, BC MLA’s did nothing to fix their own financial affairs. So, one would think the 2012 stories would have created change, yes?
No.Two years later, in 2014, news broke that then speaker Linda Reid’s expenses were a bit like Imelda Marcos: Lavish expensed trips, excessive legislative spending.. you get the gist. And it wasn’t just Linda Reid…Raj Chouhan expensed a lavish trip as well, which he paid back. Full details on that,here:
Finally, following more than a decade of amateurish accounting practices, the BC Legislature and MLA’s within it had been embarrassed enough to move towards proper accounting practices and transparency, and published their first expense reports in 2015:
It’s now 2018 and the most recent LAMC Accountability report is available online to show you how and where the legislature spends its money and keeps track of it. Seems timely to show you:
I can’t determine what safeguards they have in place now to prevent misappropriation of funds, but it’s clear that little attention has been paid to this in the past. 

Clearly it was a gong show under the BC Liberals and it took repeated instances of public embarrassment for elected officials to even bother and try to remedy it ( detailed in the link I posted just above) …and it still wasn’t enough as we can see now. I thought Linda Reids expenses were outrageous and her desire for fresh muffins for the legislature, out of touch and entitled, however the spending by Craig James has a Cardi B kinda bling-bling lux to it. Watches, suits, liquor, limos and WTF, I will never forget the wood splitter: ( May I suggest renting it out to BC residents for free, since we helped pay for that?)

There are many, many more questions the Plecas report raises, questions that must be answered about allegations like this:

” He said if they took issue with my expenses, he could put an end to it because he had ” so much dirt on the Liberals,” and that he could threaten to ” stop paying their legal bills” or ” quit paying their severance payments”

And there is much more, but it is safe to say this is a blight and embarrassment for oversight in the legislature. There is much more to dig into because the report ( pages 36 and 37 ) also mentions trips to the mainland to meet with Geoff Plant, Christy Clark and others, which is a good time to bring up this older piece by Norm Farrell:

It’s not likely to be something many will be familiar with, nor is it likely to be covered in depth in any major media, but it does give history and context to his position specifically that adds another layer to this entire debacle.

As much as this report details what I see as horrific abuse of public funds, sadly it is the system that exists that allows this to occur, that needs to be desperately and completely overhauled. It is my belief that it’s still far too lax and very little oversight is paid, in general, as evidenced by this story from November of last year in which Michelle Stillwell expressed outrage:

(I can’t help but wonder two things: one, that digging through ndp expenses was a deliberate attempt to deflect from James and Lenz…and two, f she was so outraged over those expenses, why is she so quiet now?)

Plecas said he hopes every British Columbian reads this report.

So do I. And I hope it bolsters the call for a full public inquiry into corruption in BC, which is now clearly not just left in the realm of casinos. I’m not so certain it’s been elected officials running BC much as bureaucrats have been running them.

You can read the Plecas report here:

***this is tonight, experts contradict Eby and say no reason not to hold a public inquiry right now.

57 thoughts on “How a woodsplitter became the new standard for entitlement & corruption in BC politics

  1. Another gem from Bob Mackin:

    “Rewind to June 2, 2011, when the BC Liberal majority voted to appoint Craig James the clerk of the BC Leg. House leader Rich Coleman tabled the motion. Then-NDP leader Adrian Dix urged a competitive hiring process. Fast forward 2,791 days and the scathing Plecas report.”


    1. Most excellent. One wonders what all those people on the LAMC did all these years? Horgan was a member himself, as detailed above in a link. If the then opposition could not outvote Libs on the committee to make proper oversight, why the hell havent they been screaming loudly about this for the last 16 years to let the public know?

      The BC Liberals firmly wear this all. And we are absolutely going to hear more if they go back through many more years than just the last two or dig into other matters. But it should have been caught and stopped long long ago.


      1. Laila, I’m sorry, I didn’t intend to have that whole mess up above; just the “rewind” quote. I’m not a twitter linker so blew it. If you can alter, edit out the extra (or the whole thing) I would be happy.


  2. The report from Mr Plecus made me feel like throwing up. So, he is exonerated in my books and should be hailed as….. A HERO !!! Andrew Wilkinson and his bunch should be hailed as pieces of tird pile stuff.


    1. This just in.
      Experts including one from Charbonneau, contradict Eby and say YES, an inquiry can be started right away

      ” Quebec’s Charbonneau Commission has served as an example for those calling for an inquiry into money laundering.

      That commission spent four years looking into “collusion and corruption in the awarding and management of public contracts” in Quebec’s construction industry; it also looked at “any links to the financing of political parties.”

      The inquiry found that corruption was more “deeply rooted” than investigators thought.

      Engineering firms had colluded with companies to support political candidates so that they could obtain public contracts after elections, the inquiry found. Videos played at the inquiry showed alleged Mafiosi stuffing money into their socks.

      Charbonneau Commission deputy chief prosecutor Simon Tremblay offered a firm “yes” when asked whether B.C. should hold an inquiry into money laundering.

      The purpose of an inquiry, he explained, “is to understand the schemes, to understand what happened, where are the holes in the laws.”

      And such an inquiry, Tremblay said, could exist side-by-side with any other investigation in B.C.

      When the Charbonneau Commission began, “the first month was experts testifying about how organized crime works,” Tremblay explained.

      As the inquiry moved forward, the commission worked alongside the police. Eventually a provincial body that investigates corruption arrested 37 people including former Laval mayor Gilles Vaillancourt.

      The former mayor was sentenced to six years in prison for fraud, conspiracy and breach of trust. He was ordered to pay $9 million to the city as part of his sentence.

      Spend $35 million, make $95 million

      The City of Laval, where Tremblay now works as head of the legal department, ultimately recovered over $40 million in funds associated with the awarding of contracts, he said.

      That alone was more than the $35 million that was earmarked to hold the inquiry in the first place — deals were reached to repay as much as $95 million across Quebec.

      And even that likely doesn’t capture the full breadth of what was recovered, Tremblay said.

      “It’s huge money that we save,” he said. “And also, all the processes in place now are much better so, for me, it’s a huge investment.”

      3 experts vs
      1 Attorney General

      Who in this government is holding Eby back? And why exactly are you so hesitant?


  3. It will be interesting to see how MSM, particularly Palmer-Baldrey cover this turn of events.

    For Speaker Plecas, the bigger issue will be the success or failure of the recall campaign undeway in his riding.


  4. The stench of BC politics grows with each and every revelation.

    A public inquiry into corruption????
    Who do we trust any more to lead it?
    ANYONE from BC?
    Too much baggage. Too many conflicts of interest.
    Anyone who has become a judge in this Provice has rrubbed elbows with the very people that may be called to testify..
    Someone from Ontario?, Alberta? Anywhere but BC?
    I nominate Ms Charbonneau to be a specially appointed JUDGE who may suppeona witnesses under criminal penalty if they refuse to appear, refuse to testify and refuse to co operate..
    A JUDGE who can hand out punitive fines or serious jail time.
    NOT a former judge who has absolutely zero power other than the media and public opinion.
    We NEED to scare the bejeezus out of former political hacks and their followers.
    Until Politicians are forced to tell the truth and or punished for their corruption……any inquiry will be an utter waste of taxpayers money and time.
    Build a Federal prison for people serving 10 years + down stream from the Site C dam and fill it. with convicted politicians and their lickspittle accomplices..


  5. Laila, your comments regarding slurs cast by some against individuals legitimately sounding the alarm are bang on.

    John van Dongen spent well over $200,000 of his own money and lost his seat in a principled attempt to get the truth behind the Basi/Virk BC Rail plea payoff. He was mocked by people like Vaughn Palmer and Philip Till for his efforts. And Rich Coleman even took the classy route of questioning his mental stability.

    “Mr. Coleman reached for the bucket. ‘I’ve been concerned about John as a friend for a long time,’ he told reporters later, mocking sincerity. ‘He’s been struggling with his role in public life and I wasn’t particularly surprised because I’ve had lengthy conversations with him about some of his own personal issues.’ Issues, he added, that seemed to have ‘impaired’ the man’s judgement.
    He let that hang. Some friend.”

    And Geoff Plant wrote Mr. van Dongen an open letter in an attempt to mock and discredit his attempt to find the truth, although that backfired because Plant shot himself in both feet by claiming there was no legal agreement tying the guilty pleas to the waiver of liability for the accumulated defence legal fees because as a matter of law that agreement would constitute an inducement. Problem for Plant is that there was just such an agreement. Palmer, Till et al haven’t yet found the spine or integrity to follow that up.

    Then we have people like Stewart Muir insulting Norm Farrell by tweeting that, “Norm, you may be 85 years old, but you are truly as innocent of basic economics as a newborn babe.” This in answer to a query about questionable data in a table produced by the BC Finance Ministry that Muir was using to claim power use in BC was skyrocketing. Neither the ministry nor Muir has yet to explain the very questionable figures. Muir and the BC Liberals are not strangers:

    The truth will out. Shooting the messenger has always been only a temporary fix employed by desperate people.


    1. Thanks John.

      Its interesting to watch reactions from some in Victoria, for sure. No surprise to those of us who’ve been blogging for a long time.

      Reid should resign. I thought she should back when this all came out but many defended her. 🙄


      1. Indeed it is a good read. British Columbians should be asking themselves how it compares to the reports they’re getting from those assigned full time to the Legislature to be our eyes and ears there.

        Someone like Global’s Keith Baldrey for example.

        The answer to which one is the real journalist will quickly become apparent.


        1. This entire scandal-in a long line of others- is why journalists MUST keep a line between themselves and the politicians they report on.

          This entire business of journalists engaging with politicians on a personal level is wrong. One can say there is no bias but when you see how Baldrey also responded to the initial suspensions online and to Plecas’s statements then,its called into question. He is both a legislative reporter and a columnist which are vastly different roles. A reporter must be impartial yet a columnist is paid specifically for their opinion. When one reads his opinion pieces of course it impacts anyones view of his reporting!

          Gary Mason is the only one to admit wrong.

          And where the hell are the reporters dogging Linda Reid, Geoff Plant and others? Remember those days of chasing subjects down for questions?

          When did everyone lose the fire in their belly?


  6. I want to clarify something about this wood splitter too.

    The tweets and reports from some reporters and media outlets are not clear on how the splitter came to be at the legislature parking lot. In fact a few seem to imply it was always there, when in fact it was not.

    This, from the Time Colonist:

    ” A $3,200 wood splitter and $10,029 work trailer were expensed to the legislative assembly but were delivered directly to James’s home, where the equipment was used by James and Lenz, the Plecas report alleges. A receipt shows that the wood splitter was picked up by “Craig.”

    When Plecas asked why the legislative assembly would purchase a wood splitter, he was told it could be used to cut fallen trees to use for firewood in the course of a “crisis situation.”

    Even if this rationale passed muster, Plecas wrote, it’s difficult to understand why the equipment would be kept at James’s personal residence. A letter from James’s lawyer said his client was “holding” the wood splitter because there was no room in the legislative precinct.

    Through his lawyer, James offered to return the splitter in December 2018. It was seized by the RCMP.

    Both the wood splitter and work trailer now sit on the grounds of the B.C. legislature. ”


      1. Haha. Would be fun to run with this one! The sense of entitlement is breathtaking and not surprising. Enough fodder here for weeks of investigation. Surely Linda Reid will have to resign before this is done.


        1. Well if you make it to Comox sometime,you can run with it on a bench with a view ( off the record…😉)

          It doesn’t sound like she is so far, and I strongly suspect we’ll see a Duffy defense here by her. Her initial answers already indicate her actions were ‘standard practice”. ( Like, raise the bar Linda.)

          The issue even without this terribly lax oversight, is that without implicit language succinctly detailing how what when where and why things qualify for expense,its easily open to challenge and abuse. And with James for guidance? Ha.

          Beyond this,its incredibly frustrating because of how it effects public trust. Try and convince a non political voter in BC that any particular politician is different.

          Its remarkable still though, how even today Polak was righteous in her position Plecas did the wrong thing.

          Imagine that he didn’t. Would we be here today?


  7. The problems that are now associated with Craig Harley James maybe wider spread out that realized. His bio, page 22 and 23 which may go to explain why he travels so much.

    The bigger question, are the other entities picking up his travel expenses or are British Columbians?

    A bio, praising the theatre ‘star’, is usually written by the star himself in the third person.

    “…. Over the past few years, Craig has been consultant to the World Bank, World Bank Institute (United Nations)(IBRD) and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association participating in seminars in countries such as El Salvador, Trinidad and Tobago, St. Lucia, Bangladesh, Ghana, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bhutan, India, Nigeria, Malaysia, South Africa, Malta, Thailand, Kenya and others from the training of parliamentary staff to designing parliamentary committees systems to parliamentary financial oversight including the oversight of Parliament, itself. Most recently ….”


  8. We should also be ensuring we are not lured by the singular light on the clerk while the while the shop owners are busy with the shredder out back.


    1. It’s been my thought all day. I’m hoping precautions were taken prior to this report being issued which would have been SOP in the private sector for a similar transgression. I’d have gone as far as revoking or locking access to certain records as well.


  9. All I want ….
    Is Christy Clark , under oath, on a witness stand, being hammered with questions about BC Rail……for days and days and days…..Followed by her ex husband, her brother,…Then Basi and Virk following up her testimony with their ungagged version of events……


    1. I always wanted Gordon Campbell to come back in hand cuffs. Neither of us may get what we wanted, but if we could get this all cleaned up it would be nice, because most of this starts with Campbell and B.C. Rail and a few other things. Having Basi and Virk testify might be nice but it really isn’t where the important stuff lies. Its with Campbell, his bag man and perhaps a few others.

      Went back a bit and found an article written by Rob Shaw, Vancouver Sun, 5 May 2014, titled: Lifting the Lid on MLA Spending Secrecy. Good read. Certainly enlightens you on how some MLAs spent that $12k a year housing allowance, no receipts required. The only one, who provided receipts was Vicky Huntington, who billed the government for just under $2K on hotel rooms when she was in the Leg. I’d suggest she will be one of the few who will get a pass.

      Now back in the day and I don’t remember what year it was there was a Socred or B.C. LIeberal who expensed a bottle of pouilly fuisse. People were a tad outraged over that bottle of wine. oh, how times have changed. Now you have people thinking its o.k. to buy a log splitter for $3,200. Still am not over that. the log splitter just takes the cake. Can understand how people’s minds work and their sense of entitlement and all that, but the log splitter, OMG,…….
      I WANT AN INQUIRY INTO THE WHOLE MESS IN B.C. FROM B.C. RAIL TO MONEY LAUNDERING EVERY WHERE, THE CASINOS, THE SPEAKERS OFFICE THINGS, GOVERNMENT EXPENSE ACCOUNTS, ETC. This is the same bunch of ass holes who deducted nickel for nickel the money kids received from their non custodial parents as child support forcing them and their custodial parent to live on $1,200 a month. Christy Clarke’s line at the time was, they needed the $14M a year for the provincial budget. WELL SHE COULD HAVE GOTTEN THAT MONEY FROM THE RIP OFFS GOING ON IN HER GOVERNMENT. Yes, while children and their parent would have to live on $1,200 a month these others were living “high on the hog” believing they were entitled to it. Perhaps time limits on times in office are required.


      1. ” I WANT AN INQUIRY INTO THE WHOLE MESS IN B.C. FROM B.C. RAIL TO MONEY LAUNDERING EVERY WHERE, THE CASINOS, THE SPEAKERS OFFICE THINGS, GOVERNMENT EXPENSE ACCOUNTS, ETC. This is the same bunch of ass holes who deducted nickel for nickel the money kids received from their non custodial parents as child support forcing them and their custodial parent to live on $1,200 a month. Christy Clarke’s line at the time was, they needed the $14M a year for the provincial budget. WELL SHE COULD HAVE GOTTEN THAT MONEY FROM THE RIP OFFS GOING ON IN HER GOVERNMENT. Yes, while children and their parent would have to live on $1,200 a month these others were living “high on the hog” believing they were entitled to it. Perhaps time limits on times in office are required.”

        Hell ya. Time limits on serving? I’m all for that one…

        Best ever eaf. Now I see the fire back 🙂



    Plecas says “there is definitely more to come here” and that he will only feel vindicated when the 17 people who were forced out of their jobs for allegedly speaking out against James and Lenz are “made whole.”
    “If I had my way every single person who was wronged at the legislature would be made whole,” Plecas said.

    How incredibly refreshing. He has singlehandedly done in a year, what 16 years in opposition failed to do.


    1. I agree completely. i will take it further and say, what the cowards in opposition failed to do in the past 16 years.. And now they’re in power. And the wimp factor shows, in that Horgan and company are just what they were in opposition. Pathetic self serving disgusting cowards. Haaah isn’t that something. The cowards and the corrupt facing off against each other in the legislature and yep this is our BC government at work for you and me.


  11. ” “People need to start electing people to office where their first requisite is that person have a strong moral compass. That is far more important than any party somebody belongs to,” Plecas said.”

    And more this.

    There are many people elected in this province who should never have been.
    People who got into politics not to serve,but to gain personally.
    People who in the private sector would have been fired long ago for non-performance or other reasons.

    There are many Libs who shouldnt be mla’s. And there are some ndp mlas who shouldnt be there either.

    But dammit, there is something very wrong in BC and we need a full inquiry now.

    If you happen to read this Plecas, thank you.


  12. “The B.C. Legislature’s finances have been treated as high risk by the province’s auditors for the past dozen years because of weak oversight, but there was no political will to change the system, B.C.’s Auditor-General says.

    Now, with the bombshell allegations of financial improprieties against the top two officers of the legislature, Auditor-General Carol Bellringer is welcoming an all-party agreement by B.C.’s legislators to pursue reforms.”

    Gee. Pretty much what I referred back to in my post above.. there was no political will to make proper changes.


  13. John Horgan cannot afford to be smug over this.

    Sure, it is fine to score some political points with the Nanaimo bi-election coming next week, but the Plecas report is also a damning indictment on a long serving NDP opposition.

    It would seem the reason Mr. Plecas got what he did, was because people trusted him; something the NDP failed to achieve in 16+ years.

    That we are told, there were 17 people terminated without cause (and there are most likely a lot more) is a pretty good indicator the NDP could not be trusted, were lazy, were part of the problem or all of the above.

    How many times over the years, did we ask ourselves; “where is the opposition on this?” How many times, pre 2017 election, did I express my concerns over Mr. Horgan’s lack of action; sitting on his hands?

    Secondly, we cannot allow the Plecas report to overshadow the need for a full blown enquiry on the big stuff. We mustn’t let this become a diversion.


    1. “We mustn’t let this become a diversion.”


      A very good point when one considers that average voter has the attention span of a fruit fly circling over a bowl of rotten cherries.

      Unfortunately “endless political crisis” seems to the new way to avoid dealing with the “scandal de jour”….
      People cant remember the last 5 scandals because new ones keep hammering us……
      Politicians count on that mindset.


    2. Thanks for putting into writing what I was mulling over…after the health firings it bothered me greatly to hear 17 people were alleged to have been wrongly fired.

      And yet none felt comfortable going to the opposition or HR? Did they stay silent due to the omerta inherent to partisan interests? Dont say anything so the opposition has no target?

      If so…it makes me sad and moreso angry.Partisanship is so toxic.


  14. I don’t mind my taxes paying for those fired people in a lawsuit if they were unjustly fired. If they were fired for raising concerns about wrong doing regarding expenditures of OUR money, then the one or ones who were in charge and gave the orders are nothing but scum. No different than the scum that gave the orders and over saw the health ministry firings and caused the death of one wonderful person because of their ass covering and dirtiness. Mike de Jong was Health Minister, and Graham Whitmarsh was the Deputy Minister who suspended the workers, and Margret McDirmad continued to allude to a police investigation. How come went on so long with that until the man’s tragic death. Was she fed lies or misinformation and was baffled as she purported. But jeez, that dam Mike de Jong’s name sure pops up a lot since BC Rail and through his time as Christy’s Finance Sin and Spin Minister during all the money laundering shit. Coleman’s name isn’t the only that has a red flag on it from my perspective. Can’t believe he was also a Justice Minister like most of the the other wastes of space and taxes that filled that position.


  15. I wonder if Christy Clark’s name will eventually make it onto the questionable expenditures radar screen among other well known officials and ex officials. I’m pissed at a good portion of those dirty rats that nearly drowned themselves with entitlement and gluttony. They should all have to pay back society for any expenses they used wrongfully. Imagine what good things all the money could have went towards but instead these pigs ate it all up.


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