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’s Up: Things to see and do on Family Day

There’s plenty of fun to be had across the West Kootenay this coming long weekend!

Province announces $23 million for upgrades at Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital

West Kootenay-Boundary Regional Hospital District Board has yet to review the provincial proposal

Call a foul on cancer with the Pink Whistle Campaign

Local basketball referees are raising money for cancer research

UPDATE: Two-car accident closes Highway 3A at Thrums

Road expected to open for single-lane alternating traffic at 2 p.m.

Trail Curling Club set for BC senior championships

Volunteers step up for BC Senior Curling championships at Trail Curling Club

B.C. students win Great Waters Challenge video contest

Video, mural and song about saving the salmon claims the top prize

East Kootenay illicit drug overdose deaths lowest in B.C.

Local expert credits harm reduction efforts; declares support for legalization of opioids

Eight cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver outbreak

Coastal Health official say the cases stem from the French-language Ecole Jules Verne Secondary

Ontario police field complaints over Amber Alert for missing girl, 11, found dead

Some said the Amber Alert issued late Thursday for Riya Rajkumar disrupted their sleep

Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell accused of sexual touching

Accuser went to police, interviewed by Britian’s Daily Telegraph

B.C. couple attacked with acid, slashed with knife in Vietnam

Warning, graphic images: Man has burns on 80 per cent of his body, slashed with knife

Northern B.C. First Nation clan says ancient tools found at pipeline work site

Archeologists from the Smithsonian Institute estimate one of the stones found dates back up to 3500 years

Names keep adding to vaccine petition started by B.C. mom

Maple Ridge mom started campaign to make vaccination a condition of attending school

Most Read