“I do not recall that conversation.”
That’s the response from former Speaker of the House Linda Reid when asked if she had been informed in 2013 by then Deputy Clerk of the House Kate Ryan-Lloyd about the alleged theft of liquor at the B.C. Legislature by then Clerk of the House Craig James – who retired under suspension last May after findings of workplace misconduct.
Ryan-Lloyd recently informed a Police Act investigation of Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz, the recently retired Legislature’s top cop, that she and Reid discussed the April 22, 2013, incident after Reid assumed the Speaker’s role on June 26, 2013.
“Ms. Ryan-Lloyd said she also spoke about the incident with then-Speaker Linda Reid in the context of policy discussions regarding Legislative Assembly property,” wrote investigator Doug LePard in his report to the Legislature, released to the public October 8.
A report on policy and administrative misconduct by Justice Beverley McLachlin, released last May, determined James “knowingly removed a significant quantity of alcohol from the Legislative precinct without accounting for what he took or providing verifiable payment for it.”
According to statements from Lenz to LePard, Ryan-Lloyd had told Lenz at the time the precinct was “out $8,000.”
So, what did Reid know about James’ misconduct such as the alleged liquor theft?
Nothing, Reid told Glacier Media October 9.
LePard’s report details 12 witness interviews, including Reid; however Reid is the only one to have declined to speak directly to LePard, instead choosing to communicate via her lawyer George Cadman. LePard reported that not all of his questions to Reid were answered, including what information about the liquor incident others may have told Reid.
Cadman did inform LePard that Reid had no such documents, knowledge or information that was relevant to the investigation, which found Lenz committed neglect of duty under the Police Act for failing to investigate James, his fellow senior manager of the parliament buildings. Lenz avoided discipline by retiring.
Ryan-Lloyd is now Acting Clerk of the House, having replaced James after he was suspended last November after the announcement of an RCMP investigation into his workplace conduct, stemming from allegations by current Speaker Darryl Plecas. Reid is the BC Liberal MLA for Richmond South Centre and longest-serving member of the House. She was Speaker from 2013 to 2017, when the BC Liberal government fell to the BC NDP-BC Green coalition due, in part, to Plecas becoming the new Speaker and leaving the BC Liberal caucus.
Reid said she did not speak to LePard directly because she was travelling. On July 22 LePard emailed Reid seeking an interview. He wanted to know what people, including Lenz, had told her about James’ alleged theft. He also wanted to corroborate Ryan-Lloyd’s statement. On July 27 Reid directed LePard to Cadman.
“He advised that Ms. Reid would not be sitting down for an interview but that he would respond on her behalf to written questions,” stated LePard’s report.
Cadman contended that many of LePard’s questions were not relevant to the investigation into Lenz.
“I disagree with her need to answer the same, there will be no response to those questions.”
LePard’s investigation was focused on a formal complaint from Plecas’ office concerning why Lenz didn’t investigate James at the relevant time. LePard’s investigation had no mandate to ask why others in the Legislature did not report the possible crimes to police.
Cadman did tell LePard that Lenz did not speak to Reid about the liquor incident.
Reid said October 9 that her response to LePard via Cadman was cooperative with the investigation.
LePard found that during 2013 there were “rumours” among Legislature staff about the incident. As Speaker, Reid was like a board chair for the Legislature, explained McLachlin, whereas James was like its CEO. However there was found to be a “lack of clarity” as to who was in charge of what, McLachlin’s report concluded.
One witness in LePard’s report describes a “scratch your back” relationship between James and Lenz, who were alleged by Plecas to have misappropriated tax dollars for personal reasons, including expensive junkets and an infamous wood splitter and landscaping trailer found in James’ possession. James was found by McLachlin to have committed four counts of misconduct. LePard subsequently determined Lenz lied to McLachlin, constituting misconduct under the Police Act.
Reid herself was caught using tax dollars for personal reasons while serving as Speaker. In March 2014 she claimed to have repaid $5,500 to the office for her husband’s flights to South Africa, where Reid attended a 10-day Commonwealth Parliamentary Conference (Reid had posted safari photos on social media).
Auditor General Carol Bellringer reviewed the Legislature’s accounting policies in a report dated September 19. She found spending and expense policies in the offices of the Speaker, clerk and sergeant-at-arms were not always followed and lacked clear documentation. She did not conduct a forensic audit, however, leading to criticism from Plecas. Bellringer resigned September 25, citing personal reasons for her departure, which is planned for December.