VICTORIA — Premier John Horgan says it was across the time of his first anniversary as premier that he heard allegations of wrongdoing concerning Clerk of the Legislature Craig James.
The supply was a fellow New Democrat, Raj Chouhan, the Burnaby MLA who serves as deputy speaker. Chouhan heard from Speaker Darryl Plecas, then already effectively into his investigation of James and sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz.
Would Horgan meet with Plecas and listen to him out? Chouhan requested.
Horgan thought higher of it for 2 causes, he advised reporters yesterday.
To begin with the legislative meeting will not be throughout the purview of the premier — although Plecas appeared to assume it was.
However second — “and I believe that is critically necessary” — Horgan had strongly opposed the appointment of James as clerk.
I lined the showdown on June 2, 2011. The Liberals flouted 60 years of precedents in appointing James clerk with out help of the Opposition.
Horgan, then the opposition home chief, was one of many strongest voices to be raised towards the transfer.
Due to that historic little bit of unhealthy blood, Horgan figured that if he have been fielding allegations of wrongdoing towards James “there may very well be a notion of bias.”
So he requested his chief of workers Geoff Meggs to take the assembly.
All this solely got here out this week with the discharge of a 112-page report alleging wrongdoing by now-departed sergeant-at-arms Lenz, who resigned quickly after being proven the report, all of the whereas insisting he has accomplished nothing incorrect.
However in the midst of a protracted narrative involving Lenz, report creator Doug LePard, the previous deputy chief of police in Vancouver, opened a window on the involvement of the premier’s workplace.
The Meggs-Plecas sit-down occurred July 30, 2018 on the Vancouver cupboard workplace. Additionally in attendance have been Chouhan, one other staffer from the premier’s workplace, and Alan Mullen, then an aide to the Speaker, later his chief of workers.
The assembly lasted about an hour. The dialogue targeted on a 40- to 50-page doc containing the allegations. Plecas gave Meggs a duplicate and others within the room had one as effectively.
“What I had was clearly a draft copy,” Meggs advised me. And never a really spectacular one at that — principally allegations, with out supporting proof. “Every thing I had was rumour.”
After some forwards and backwards Meggs suggested Plecas and Mullen to take their allegations to the police. “It wanted to be reviewed by professionals.”
When the assembly broke up, the Speaker left Meggs along with his copy of the allegations.
Some weeks later — Meggs can not bear in mind exactly when — Chouhan suggested the premier’s workplace that Plecas had certainly taken the fabric to the police.
Someday in late summer season or early fall, Meggs shredded his copy of the doc.
“It was my choice to shred it. I didn’t need to have it. I didn’t need this floating round.”
When Lenz and James have been escorted from the legislature after the appointment of particular prosecutors within the case, Meggs reported his recollections of the Plecas assembly in a memo to Don Wright, the deputy minister within the premier’s workplace. He additionally briefed the premier, although solely briefly.
Horgan, for his half, defended Meggs Tuesday, claiming the doc was “his to shred.”
He additionally characterised it as being of “unknown origin,” although it had been hand delivered to the premier’s workplace by the Speaker himself.
The premier additionally confirmed flashes of the mood that has not been a lot on show since his days in Opposition.
He accused reporters of creating “good careers out of spreading rumours.” We have been attempting to make “a mountain out of this molehill.” We have been advised “I don’t assume this can be a hair to separate.”
Later Meggs himself defended the choice to shred.
“I nonetheless assume it was the suitable factor to do,” he advised me. “If it had discovered its approach to the incorrect place, it might have precipitated issues.”
However the copy Meggs shredded occupies a singular place within the paper path of this complicated and unresolved case.
It’s the doc that led the premier’s workplace to advise the Speaker to take his allegations to the police.
The recommendation was adopted, resulting in the appointment of two particular prosecutors and the suspension of James and Lenz from their positions on the legislature.
That makes it the founding doc of the complete case towards Lenz and James.
Furthermore, by Meggs account, it was a tough and unproven factor, full of unsupported allegations and rumour.
He says that the subsequent time he noticed the allegations, they have been within the extra polished type of the reviews Plecas put out in January, which have been drafted with the help of a lawyer.
However given the stakes on this case, I’m wondering if the attorneys for Lenz or James would possibly need to see that earlier, unpolished draft, to light up the shaky beginnings of the case towards their purchasers.
Once I put that risk to Meggs, he dismissed it. So far as he is aware of, copies of the doc that he shredded survive within the palms of the Speaker and his chief of workers. If the attorneys need one, they need to ask Plecas or Mullen.
Nonetheless, in a case as fraught with political implications as this one, it could have been wiser for the chief of workers to have saved his copy, towards the day when he is perhaps requested to supply it.
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