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.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

FVRD to reopen corporate office on a limited basis

Fraser Valley Regional District visitors will be screened and asked to maintain physical distancing

Cenotaph added to Abbotsford’s heritage registry

Memorial dates back to 1929; was relocated to Thunderbird Square in 2006

The Fraser Valley has been warming at a quicker rate than Vancouver. Why?

Implications for agriculture and humans as data suggests region is warming at a rapid rate

City staff recommend which four cannabis stores should get Abbotsford council’s OK

Plethora of applicants in central Abbotsford made location a key deciding fctor

‘First guys out:’ western Canadian air tanker fleet busy despite drop in wildfires

CEO believes wildfires have become more dangerous in recent years as people live closer to where they start

Canada gets C-average grade on 2nd year of cannabis legalization

Cannabis Council of Canada releases report card on federal government and legalization

B.C. suburbs could see increased demand for rental units as people work from home

Vancouver’s average monthly rent is the highest out of 35 cities across Canada

BC Conservatives leader fights back after BC Liberals leak 2018 workplace harassment case

Sexual harassment case was connected to employee being terminated, WorkSafeBC found

‘Buy a boat,’ Horgan advises anti-maskers on BC Ferries

NDP leader John Horgan talks COVID-19 misinformation

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Non-essential travel restrictions at Canada-U.S. border extended to at least Nov. 21

The restrictions do not apply to those providing essential services in either country

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Family devastated as search for missing Manning Park hiker suspended

‘It was an extremely difficult meeting with the parents when we had to tell them.’

Most Read