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Overhaul needed following B.C. legislature spending scandal: Taxpayers Federation

Last Updated Oct 15, 2019 at 2:02 pm PST

(Lasia Kretzel, NEWS 1130 Photo)
Summary

Every dollar spent at the B.C. legislature needs to be accounted for following last year's spending scandal

That's what the Canadian Taxpayers Federation is saying, as they continue to demand accountability from elected MLAs

Kris Sims says a forensic audit should have been done

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – The Canadian Taxpayers Federation is demanding stronger accountability following the exposure of a spending scandal at the provincial legislature last year.

B.C. director Kris Sims says there’s no longer any doubt money has been wasted, and changes need to be made soon.

“But there doesn’t seem to be a lot of change happening. There needs to be a clear chain of command for anybody, who suspects wrongdoing or the misspending of taxpayers’ money, has a place where he or she can report to without worrying about losing their job.”

Changes in the process of being approved by the Legislative Assembly Management Committee include safeguards to ensure expenses are properly governed.

They include closing gaps when it comes to reporting expense claim violations, the proper use of purchasing cards and trips or clothing bought without prior approval.

But Sims says a forensic audit should have already been done by now, even as a review by Auditor General Carol Bellringer found examples of what she says should be considered criminal behaviour.

“Ridiculous things, like subordinates signing off on their superiors’ spending. Can you imagine your boss coming to you with $1,000 on an expense form saying, ‘hey, sign off on this.’ That’s unacceptable,” she says.

Former clerk Craig James and former sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz have been under investigation by police since last year, and two special prosecutors have been appointed.

Sims says she’s not surprised the RCMP investigation isn’t done yet.

“That could mean that they’re turning up a lot of important evidence, and that they are doing a very thorough report. We hope it isn’t just a delay,” she says. “We doubt that it is. Maybe what they’re finding is so substantive they need to take their time and be very careful.”