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

Stray cats hit by cars require $11,000 in medical care, says Abbotsford SPCA

Six injured cats have been brought to branch in last two weeks

Abbotsford Liberal candidate says policies show Trudeau apology is sincere

Seamus Heffernan said ‘error in judgment’ not representative of Prime Minister or party

Trudeau brownface photos are ‘a teaching moment,’ UFV South Asian Studies professor says

Photos are ‘unacceptable,’ but Satwinder Bains says Trudeau must demonstrate his apology was sincere

‘This isn’t fun and games’: Fraser Valley academic explains why brownface is hurtful

Satwinder Bains says wearing brownface and a turban is unacceptable

Abbotsford cops will now issue electronic tickets for driving offences

System is more efficient and accurate, says Abbotsford Police Department

VIDEO: Trudeau asks Canada to look to current, not past, actions on race

Liberal leader says he never spoke about the racist photo because he was embarrassed

Legislature gifts, clothing, travel need better control, B.C. auditor says

Audit follows suspensions of managers by Speaker Darryl Plecas

‘Unacceptable’: What politicians have to say about Trudeau in blackface

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi: ‘When I saw that picture last night, certainly it was a sucker-punch’

‘He’s trying to kill me’: Victoria police commandeer boats to reach screaming woman

No charges laid and civilians to be awarded honours after incident on Gorge Waterway

VIDEO: B.C. man accused of assaulting sex worker loses temper in interrogation

Defence lawyer says statements made by accused Curtis Sagmoen should be deemed inadmissible

John Horgan promises action after fatal mid-Island bus crash

Premier cites students, local Indigneous community as reason to repair the road

Police warn of escalating violence, weapons in Vancouver’s Oppenheimer Park

Officers issue statement about high crime in the area that includes a homeless camp

Teens charged in stabbing death of B.C. man in strip mall parking lot

Two youths, aged 15 and 16, charged in Aug. 16 killing of South Surrey’s Paul Prestbakmo

Forestry watchdog warned B.C. government about Bamfield Road in 2008

Ombusman’s specific concerns re-surface in wake of bus crash that killed two students

Most Read