Last night I took a few moments before bed to re-read the older posts I’ve written on past spending and accounting scandals in the legislature, because I couldn’t stop thinking about the 17 people alleged to have been let go for raising concerns about spending or procedure.
We will get back to that shortly, but there has been a lot of confusion for newer readers as to what the LAMC is and what they do. OR don’t do which is really more appropriate, considering the details of the Plecas report.
The Legislative Assembly Management Committee aka LAMC, was created and empowered to : “consider any matters necessary for the efficient and effective operation and management of the Legislative Assembly, including reviewing estimates of expenditure for the Legislative Assembly under Vote 1. “
Sounds great in theory, but in practice it has been a disaster and quite honestly, a running embarrassment for the entire legislature. I’ve done two posts on this in the past, once in 2012 ( all of these issues should have been fixed then, but were not ) https://lailayuile.com/2012/07/27/politics-without-principle-makes-hypocrisy-a-governing-force-in-the-legislative-assembly/
Then, in 2014, we again took a walk down the unaccountable road of many excuses and promises to fix the issues : https://lailayuile.com/2014/03/26/politics-without-principle-2-0-just-because-you-candoesnt-mean-you-should/
The only issue is, that Craig James himself was in charge of a good amount of those improvements ( bulletproof, I believe he has been quoted as saying) and clearly that hasn’t worked out so well for anyone…least of all the 17 people who were let go.
So who sits on this mysterious committee?
For the 39th parliment, which ran from 2009-2013, the members were:
For the 40th Parliment, which ran from 2013 -2017, members were:
There is Linda Reid above, committee chair and currently under fire for allegedly asking an assistant to submit improper expenses…he refused and was subsequently fired he claims.
The current committee makeup is as follows below, and remember them, because these will be the people you need to hold responsible, along with every current mla, for fixing this once and for all.
Clearly, in past years the BC Liberals have outnumbered the NDP members of the committee… and as the auditor general said yesterday, the political will was just not there to enact substantive changes to prevent this and give actual true oversight to the committee.
This was reflected in the Plecas report:
In 2012, strengthening oversight was identified as urgent…2012…then again in 2014, it was still urgent. And yet here we are today. Ask your Liberal mla why this happened.
To be fair, some changes were made to how things were accounted for, but those changes were largely engineered by Craig James( appointed by the BC Liberals against objections, remember) But who has oversight over Craig James? Apparently no one.
Lets go to those 17 employees now,because what was written here is disturbing for several reasons.
Chilling. Apparently nothing was learned from the tragic health firings or the suicide of Rod MacIsaac. This line from the page above is very telling: ” this is a broader issue that appears to be modelled at the top of the hierarchy, but extends elsewhere in the Legislative Assembly. ” It is unacceptable that such an environment was fostered and allowed to continue unchecked.
Having been in power for 16 years, having unilaterally appointed Craig James to a lifetime appointment and having also outnumbered the NDP contingent on the LAMC, this all lands squarely on the shoulders of the BC Liberals who did nothing to fix this. They controlled everything.
But one must still ask, in the interest of it never happening again, why the alarm wasn’t sounded by the NDP members past and present on this committee? Particularly when you see statements like this in the press:
If there were signs that things were off Premier Horgan,why didn’t you act? If there are rumours of wrongdoing or other issues in the hallways, isn’t it your job, particularly while in opposition, to look into it,or have someone else look into it? How does all this happen in the legislative assembly and no one says or does a thing about serious issues that have been reported as a well known secret, until Plecas comes along? How?
To me, that is a big issue, and where immediate legislative powers of authority over the Clerk and other senior management officials in the legislature, along with explicit protocol detailing oversight and accountability of their work , must be granted to the LAMC. That this wasn’t done many years ago is without argument, a failing of the Liberal government to be sure, but also for those committees past and present. And while the new government has brought forth whistleblower legislation for the public sector, it doesn’t seem to have applied here. ( done in time? Or needs to be expanded to legislative employees for protection) https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018AG0026-000729
This is why todays presser with BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson is a joke if not an insult to every Britsh Columbian. It truly is just a repeat of what those of us who have been around long enough to remember similar assertions from past leaders.. as well as the broken promises to fix it. https://www.radionl.com/2019/01/24/opposition-leader-calls-for-an-end-to-partisan-sniping-and-for-work-to-begin-to-restore-faith-in-the-legislature/?sc_ref=twitter
Still under fire for ignoring if not aiding money laundering and speculators, his plea to halt partisan sniping comes off as self serving, considering he has yet to show enough class to even apologise to Plecas and Mullen for their very partisan smearing of the men prior to the report being made public.
Even Mary Polak, also on the LAMC committee, stands firm in her assertion Plecas did the wrong thing by not coming to the committee or the auditor general first with his concerns. ( Really Mary? And tip off the one person he had to establish a pattern of behaviour with, substantiated with evidence? Insert eyeroll here) Wilkinson talked around most questions today…which should tell you a lot about what more there may be to come from the rcmp investigation.
( not to mention a public inquiry which I suggest, AGAIN, Horgan get off the fence on)
The bright light here now, is that the current LAMC has two people that I think, will ensure the appropriate changes will finally be done. Sonia Furstenau and Gary Begg.
Gary is a former RCMP officer from Surrey and doesn’t suffer fools lightly. Sonia has shown herself to be a fierce defender of the people outside and inside the legislature, and I know she won’t be silent until it’s right.
Remember this and take it to heart. The people who work in the legislature, whether elected or not, serve the people of British Columbia. As we well know, some of those people have grown too comfortable over the years and have become entitled. It is my opinion that the benefits given to an MLA are too generous in this day and age, and clearly the salaries and benefits given to other senior employees are as well. Considering people on disability in this province are still living on meagre allotments that are leaving many homeless, the entitlement to claim per diems you haven’t used or take spouses on trips, or claim a cash option housing allowance with no receipts is just wrong. Period.
I’ve gone too long here so let me leave it with these two things:
READ the entire Plecas report and recommendations below