Further time has passed with little or no progress in addressing corruption in British Columbia. In addition to the collapse of a high profile money laundering prosecution, we have serious questions raised about senior non-political officers of the Legislature.
Years ago, after the Auditor General berated Legislative management, we should have had reforms that ensured impeccable financial controls. This clear message is from the AG’s 2012/13 Report 12:
[Audits] identified numerous problems related to management overriding of controls, inadequate documentation and inadequate oversight of management.
According to some in Victoria – not including Craig James – stringent controls have not been put in place. On December 6, Speaker Plecas told the Legislative Assembly Management Committee:
Very serious concerns were brought to me about certain activities that were taking place within the Legislative Assembly. When I learned of this information, I felt a great duty to safeguard the integrity of this institution…
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The Auditor General has yet to report on Legislative Assembly finances for the fiscal year that ended last March and now, because of Plecas, two independent Special Prosecutors are supervising an RCMP investigation into operations within BC’s Parliament.
Freelance reporter Bob Mackin wrote that BC’s Legislature was a scandal waiting to happen and he quoted journalism professor and former Legislative reporter Sean Holman about the significant potential for abuse. Mackin blames excessive secrecy and lack of transparency:
Unlike government ministries and Crown corporations, the Legislature is excluded from the freedom of information law. The people’s house is largely a mystery to the people that own it.
Former Auditor General John Doyle had a habit of talking bluntly and that displeased BC Liberals. In the referenced report, he offered prescriptions for improved management. They were largely ignored:
Had the Legislative Assembly acted earlier by adopting some of my Office’s recommendations such as implementing strong financial management controls, strengthening LAMC oversight and consulting subject matter experts then these issues could either have been prevented, or detected and addressed internally.
In the previous article, I noted that a culture of “don’t much care” has developed among senior people responsible for managing public funds. At the Legislature, that seems to have been the attitude.
Anyone watching the response of corporate media should be wondering why there has been such a concerted effort to denigrate Darryl Plecas for exercising due diligence after concerns were spoken by a whistleblower. Obviously, during his review, the Speaker saw enough to call police.
Criticism of Plecas by Liberals, pundits and commentators is partisan. Do they believe Plecas should have done nothing, like his predecessor? Should the senior Legislative officers been left in place and able to influence information given police investigators?
Think back to the nineties. When questions were raised about the infamous fast-ferry construction program, media was relentless in covering the story. Protecting the public interest and informing the citizenry were objectives.
Today, media intent seems to be protection of the suspended officers and the political party that had them appointed and supervised their work.