Log splitter bought and expensed to the B.C. legislature, seized by police from clerk Craig James’ home and returned to the legislature precinct. A utility trailer bought around the same time appeared in the legislature parking lot with no explanation soon after. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Why would the B.C. legislature need a firewood splitter?

First sign of police involvement in investigation of top managers

One of the oddities in Speaker Darryl Plecas’ report on spending practices by top managers at the B.C. legislature is the purchase of a $3,200 log splitter, a hydraulic press for cutting firewood.

Purchased at around the same time as a lift-equipped utility trailer costing more than $10,000, plus insurance, documents show the splitter was picked by legislature clerk Craig James and delivered to his home on Oct. 27, 2017.

The report includes invoices for the utility trailer and the splitter, with a notation it was ordered by a legislature facilities employee and “picked up by Craig.” The invoices and expense claims are included as exhibits in the report tabled by Plecas Monday to the committee of MLAs that oversees the $70 million operating budget of the legislature and constituency offices around the province.

Also released is a Dec. 3 letter from a lawyer representing James and legislature sergeant at arms Gary Lenz, confirming that James had been “holding the log splitter” because he believed there wasn’t room to store it on the B.C. legislature grounds. James and Lenz retained lawyers from Fasken Martineau DuMoulin in Vancouver, and a public relations firm, to represent them after they were abruptly marched out of the legislature by Victoria police in late November.

The lawyer wrote that James and Lenz “wish to return such items, and obtain their own property,” including credit cards, left behind when they were escorted off the property and told not to return until given permission.

RELATED: Investigation into legislature officers began in January

VIDEO: B.C. legislature administrators suspended, police investigate

Both the trailer and splitter have been returned to the legislature grounds, with the splitter showing paint wear from being used. Plecas reported “the RCMP intervened” and seized the splitter. The trailer showed up in the parking lot “without any indication of how it arrived there,” the report says.

Plecas says he asked about the splitter and was told it was to cut up a fallen tree “if a crisis situation befell the legislature grounds.” Plecas rejected that suggestion, saying if such a thing happened and local firefighters couldn’t deal with it, “a chainsaw and axe would appear to suffice.”

“That supposed rationale is surprising given the size of the legislature precinct,” Plecas’ report says. “And if there was indeed no space to store it, then that begs the question of why it was purchased.”

Legislature veterans know there are two wood-burning fireplaces in the building, one in the speaker’s office and one in the clerk’s office. The ornate 1890-era limestone structure is primarily heated by hot water radiators fed by an offsite boiler, including those two offices.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

What did you do on Family Day?

A weekly streeter from the 100 Mile Free Press

100 Mile Nordics draw a crowd for Family Day

‘Great to see so many families’

Change It Up promotes the positive at PSO

Week-long program described by students as ‘best week of high school ever’

Nearly 60 at cabin fever luncheon despite freezing temperatures

Al Jones’ regular correspondence for the Horse Lake and Lone Butte area

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

Girl heard saying ‘Help my Dad’ in suspicious radio message on Vancouver Island

Police asking for help following mysterious signals from somewhere between Comox and Sayward

Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

No treatment for highly infectious measles, says doctor

10 cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver as of Friday

Two more measles cases confirmed in Vancouver

It brings the number of total cases within the city connected to the outbreak to ten

B.C. Special Olympics officially underway in Vernon

Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Vancouver Aquarium wants your help to name a baby killer whale

The public helped name Springer’s first calf, Spirit, and is being asked to help with the second

Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

Corrections officers demonstrated in Maple Ridge on Friday afternoon

Skier dies at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Cause of death for young man has not been released

Most Read