If your house is burglarized and cherished possessions stolen, don’t call police. Cost of an investigation is likely more than the cash value of items stolen.
That might be the advice you’d receive from a member of the BC Press Gallery. His Postmedia article was headlined, “Cost of investigating B.C. legislature likely to exceed misspent money.” In it, he asked:
Is the cure for misspending at the legislature — namely, spending an enormous amount of money to investigate — worse than the original ailment?
The answer not provided by Rob Shaw is NO.
As former Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin reported:
…the lack of accountability for the conduct of the permanent officers of the House led to incidents where the lines between the interests of the Legislative Assembly and personal benefit sometimes blurred, creating a space where self-interested opportunism could trump the interests of the Legislative Assembly.
…Mr. James submits that the $257,988.00 payment he received in 2012 represents his payout under the terminated 1984 Memorandum. Based on my review of the documentary evidence, which is not in dispute, I cannot accept Mr. James’s submission…
The payout to Mr. James did not occur in 1987 when the 1984 scheme was terminated, but twenty-five years later in February 2012…
Mr. James asserts that the justification for the payments was a legal opinion provided to the Speaker, which Mr. James admits he never saw until “recently”.
…there is no debate that no written opinion was available to consult before the payments were made. I can only conclude that the written legal opinion that was eventually produced is being offered as an an after-the-fact effort to justify a questionable financial decision…
I conclude that the legal opinion does not actually provide a basis for the payments…
I conclude that Mr. James’s conduct with respect to the 2012 Retirement Benefit constitutes misconduct, whether by participating in the decision to award payments to individuals, including himself, without proper justification, or by deliberately standing at arm’s length and turning a blind eye toward whether Legislative Assembly funds were managed appropriately. ‘Either state of affairs resulted in a significant personal benefit to Mr. James, without any evidenced justification.
…I conclude that Mr. James’s conduct with respect to the April 9, 2018 letter [regarding 2018 Resignation Benefit representing a new and unbudgeted liability of approximately $1.2 million – Ed.] violated Legislative Assembly policies and procedures and constitutes misconduct.
…Having concluded that Mr. James instigated the April 9, 2018 letter [regarding a death benefit to James with a potential liability of just under $900,000 – Ed.] the next question is whether his conduct with respect to this benefit violated the practices of the Legislative Assembly. I conclude it did, for substantially the same reasons I have outlined with respect to Mr. James’s claims for reimbursement for private insurance premiums.
…I conclude that on at least one occasion around April 22, 2013, facilities staff loaded alcohol onto Mr. James’s personal vehicle along with a chair and desk, on instructions that came from Mr. James.
I do not accept Mr. James’s suggestion that the alcohol may have been loaded onto his truck inadvertently.
…I conclude that Mr. James knowingly removed a significant quantity of alcohol from the Legislative precinct. without accounting for what he took or providing verifiable payment for it. This constitutes misconduct by Mr. James.
…I conclude that Mr. James’s retention and use of the wood splitter and trailer violated Legislative Assembly policy and constituted misconduct.
Like other Liberals, Shaw complains about Speaker Plecas, writing, “Part of the problem is how Plecas conducted himself as boss…” He offers no comment about wilful blindness of previous Speakers in office when egregious acts occurred.
In my view, the current Speaker did an outstanding service to BC taxpayers, despite knowing he would be a target for intense criticism by members of the Press Gallery friendly to Craig James and Gary Lenz.
Some corporate media scribblers had grown too close to officers of the Legislature and as a result, they were quick to defend James and Lenz while smearing Darryl Plecas. We have observed glaring failures of long-experienced members of the media.
For the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, Kate Myers wrote:
Journalism fails at showing the systems that drive our society. Individual events and situations may make a good story, but they only illustrate the consequences of the underlying system.
If journalism only shows the visible effects of those systems, the people don’t know how to affect it. I believe journalism fails if it doesn’t place those individual events in the context of the underlying whole. Our audiences need to understand the systems that shape our society, what forces drive that system, and at what points you can use a force to change the system.
I expect Ms. Myers would pass unfavourable judgment on political coverage by many members of the BC Press Gallery.