Embattled B.C. legislature sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz has resigned.
One of the two men at the centre of the spending scandal at the legislature has stepped aside effective Tuesday.
“The Honourable Darryl Plecas, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, announced today that Gary Lenz, Sergeant-at-Arms of the Legislative Assembly, has retired from his position, effective October 1, 2019,” a statement from the B.C. Legislature reads.
“The Sergeant-at-Arms is appointed pursuant to the provisions of the Constitution Act. The Legislative Assembly will undertake steps to appoint a successor to this position.”
In a statement, Lenz says her resigned with ‘sincere regret’ and says it has ‘been a privilege to serve the people of British Columbia’ since 2009.
“I have carried out my duties for the people of British Columbia with the utmost integrity and am proud of the many initiatives that have been put in place during my time as Sergeant-at-Arms,” the statement reads’
“However, I no longer believe that I can continue to work for the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia. After considerable reflection, I have concluded that the damage that has been done to my reputation will never be fully repaired, and that if I continued as Sergeant at Arms, I would be doing a disservice to my office.”
Global News has learned that Lenz has now seen a copy of an investigation done by former Vancouver deputy police chief Doug LePard. LePard’s investigation looked into allegations Lenz had broken the rules under the provincial Police Act.
Both Speaker Darryl Plecas and his chief of staff Alan Mullen told reporters last week that the findings of the investigation will soon be released to the public.
“That investigation is expected to conclude here in the coming weeks, so we will have come information on that,” Mullen said last week.
Last November, Clerk Craig James and Lenz were put on administrative leave with pay following concerns over misspending at the B.C. legislature.
Two months later, Plecas released a bombshell report finding misspending ranging from retirement bonuses, the purchase of suits and the personal use of a wood splitter bought for the legislature grounds.
James retired earlier this year after an independent investigation by former Supreme Court of Canada chief justice Beverly McLachlin found he committed administrative misconduct related to misspending at the legislature.
Lenz was cleared of wrongdoing by McLachlin and until Monday was on administrative leave with pay. He was instant after the McLachlin Report that he would return to his job at the BC legislature.
“It was very difficult to comprehend how these allegations could be put in such a way it harmed myself, my family and my friends,” Lenz said in May.
“I’m not the type of person who holds on to the past, we need to look forward.”
The RCMP are still investigating allegations against both James and Lenz.
Last week the legislature released executive staff compensation for the pay period between April 1 and June 30.
During the three month period, James was paid $123,269 including a $63,750 vacation payout. He was also paid $1,174 for a vehicle allowance, although he regularly cycled to work while at the legislature. He officially retired on May 17, 2019.
During the same time period, Lenz was paid $61,889 while on paid leave. The compensation included a $1,067 vehicle allowance.
Cloverdale pastor found guilty on one sex charge
A Cloverdale pastor has been found guilty on one count of sexual assault, while his wife has been acquitted on all counts.
Samuel Emerson was a pastor at Cloverdale Christian Fellowship Church for eight years.
Emerson was being tried on five counts of sexual assault, two counts of touching a young person for a sexual purpose, and one count of sexual interference.
What did church know about B.C. pastor accused of sexual assault?
His wife Madelaine was charged with two counts of sexual assault, one count touching a young person for a sexual purpose and one count of threats to cause death or bodily harm.
A publication ban was in effect to protect the identities of the victims.
“I was kind of overwhelmed by it all, I know everybody involved, and its the first time to hear a lot of the circumstances,” said Emerson’s father, Randy, the church’s senior pastor.
“So, it’s been a long two and a half years for us, and lots of hurt all the way around.”
Many members of the church were in attendance at the Surrey court room where the verdict was delivered, some of them expressing disappointment with the result.
Emerson will be sentenced at a later date, and remains free from custody on court-ordered conditions.
The offences were alleged to have occurred between 2015 and 2017.
Randy Emerson told Global News in a previous interview the incidents were alleged to have taken place off church grounds.
Randy also previously told Global News that Samuel resigned his position upon his arrest.
He said the family’s five children had been living with their grandparents after their parents’ arrest.
With files from Catherine Urquhart
Ron MacLean ponders his future
He’s been called Judas. Pontius Pilate. Brute, too.
But while Ron MacLean has heard these references, he said there is only one truth when it comes to how he feels about Donald S. Cherry.
“I love Don,” he said.
You can tell from his voice these have not been easy days for MacLean. He’s worrying about the well-being of his close friend and the criticism he has faced for his response after last week’s controversial Coach’s Corner broadcast.
They have, after all, been partners for 35-years on Coach’s Corner until Remembrance Day when Cherry was fired by Sportsnet for saying “you people who come here” should wear poppies to honour the troops who provided this way of life and freedom.
MacLean took to Twitter, as well as appearing on the Sunday night Hometown Hockey broadcast, to apologize.
But he had no idea he would never appear with Cherry on Coach’s Corner again.
“It all happened so fast. I wish we could have had another day,” he said.
And now he is faced with trying to figure out what comes next?
He spent Wednesday at CBC headquarters meeting with Sportsnet brass and producers to work on just that.
“I am doing some thinking,” MacLean said Wednesday. “I am taking these days to sort and order what I will say Saturday.”
It’s going to be interesting to see how Hockey Night in Canada is going to handle that first intermission. It’s a massive hole to fill.
My suggestion is for everybody to stop trying to sink this ship.
I am hoping saner heads will prevail and we can get Coach’s Corner back where it belongs.
Forgive Don for a minor faux pas. Forgive Ron for his reactions in what was clearly a difficult time.
Make amends to those who feel hurt by what they think Cherry was trying to say.
And then get back to entertaining the audience on Saturday night.
Why Alberta is considering severing ties with the RCMP
If the measure were to find support, Alberta would join Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador as the only provinces to operate a provincial police force outside of the RCMP.
“We will invite the panel to explore the feasibility of establishing an Alberta provincial police force by ending the Alberta Police Service Agreement with the Government of Canada,” Kenney said during his speech.
Like much of what was announced Saturday, establishing a provincial police force is part of a bigger strategy to give Alberta greater autonomy from Ottawa.
“As Canada, at various times in history, has moved in the direction of having [provinces] who are looking for a bigger stake in their own governance, taking control of policing is important for those governments,” said Michael Kempa, a criminology professor at the University of Ottawa. “It’s a key component of the administration of justice, and something they would prefer not to leave to the federal government.”
But beyond a larger strategy of seeking to move powers from federal to provincial jurisdiction, how would police services be impacted in the province were this move to occur?
Outside of municipal police services in Alberta like those in Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta contracts its provincial police services from the RCMP.
As a federal police force operating across all of Canada, the responsibilities assigned to the RCMP are numerous — and that’s a challenge for any police service, Kempa said.
One agency may not be able to do all of those policing functions particularly well.– Michael Kempa, University of Ottawa criminology professor
“There’s been a raging debate around the RCMP for more than two decades as to whether or not they can continue to focus on federal policing issues alongside contracted provincial and sometimes municipal policing issues as well,” Kempa said. “One agency may not be able to do all of those different policing functions particularly well.”
Part of the appeal for a province seeking to distance itself from Ottawa is the centralization of police administration, according to Robert Gordon, a criminology professor at Simon Fraser University.
“It results in significant improvements because you’re working with a single system. Theoretically, it doesn’t involve Ottawa … there is far, far greater levels of control and accountability where everything is being dealt with out of Edmonton, or if you wanted, Calgary,” Gordon said. “Whereas at the moment, policing, priorities and standards are all driven by Ottawa.
“And of course, that is the last thing that an independent Alberta will want to have.”
RCMP representatives did not respond to requests for comment.
Any move to establish a provincial police force is likely to cost more, especially in its initial stages.
“It would cost more money, no doubt about that,” Gordon said. “And I’m not talking about startup money. You’re talking millions to transition over because you have to repaint the cars, change the uniforms, all that sort of stuff.”
Ongoing costs would also likely be higher than contracting policing out to the RCMP, Gordon said.
“They will be higher partly because provincial and municipal police services and non-RCMP are paid more highly,” he said. “[Here in British Columbia], if we were to switch over it wouldn’t be a hugely complicated thing to do, and we’ve got the resources and the infrastructure in place, but I don’t know about Alberta.”
It would cost more money, no doubt about that.– Robert Gordon, Simon Fraser University criminology professor
Despite those initial costs, Kempa said the presence of a local force could provide a return on investment.
“Even if you end up spending a little more, the hope would be that if you have it under provincial jurisdiction and directly accountable to local provincial police accountability bodies, you’re going to get a policing service tailored to the preferences, needs and standards of your territory,” he said.
Alberta has had its own police force before — the Alberta Provincial Police operated in the province from 1917 until 1932. It was replaced by the RCMP in 1932 as a cost-savings measure during the Great Depression, according to the Archives Society of Alberta.
As part of Kenney’s speech on Saturday, he reiterated a campaign pledge to create an Alberta Parole Board and take over responsibility for inmates from the Parole Board of Canada.
In such a scenario, existing correctional facilities would likely be restaffed, Gordon said.
“What you would find is that most of the existing federal staff would be staying in those facilities, and you could come to some kind of cost-sharing arrangement with the feds to ensure that there’s adequate coverage,” Gordon said. “I don’t see that as being a huge issue at all, in comparison with the policing side.”
Other measures the new Fair Deal Panel will study include:
- Establishing a provincial revenue agency by ending Alberta’s Federal-Provincial Tax Collection Agreement.
- Withdrawing from the Canada Pension Plan and establishing a provincial plan.
- Opting out of federal cost-sharing programs.
- Seeking an exchange of tax points for federal cash transfer.
- Establishing a formal provincial constitution.
- Appointing a Chief Firearms Office for the province.
The panel is set to hold a series of consultations between Nov. 16 and Jan. 30, before completing a report to government by March 31.
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