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BC Politics

Legislature Scandal: Lenz Retires, RCMP Investigation Continues

Top security official, cleared in independent review, says continuing in job impossible.

Andrew MacLeod 2 Oct 2019 | TheTyee.ca

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee's Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria and the author of All Together Healthy (Douglas & McIntyre, 2018). Find him on Twitter or reach him at

The British Columbia legislature’s head of security, suspended with pay almost a year ago while the RCMP investigated allegations of misconduct, has retired.

In an emailed statement Tuesday, Speaker Darryl Plecas wrote that “Gary Lenz, sergeant-at-arms of the legislative assembly, retired from his position effective today, Oct. 1, 2019.”

Lenz said the controversy has made it impossible to stay in his job.

“I no longer believe that I can continue to work for the legislative assembly of British Columbia,” he said in a prepared statement. “After considerable reflection, I have concluded that the damage that has been done to my reputation will never be fully repaired, and that if I continued as sergeant-at-arms, I would be doing a disservice to my office.”

Lenz said it had been a privilege to hold the position since 2009.

“I have served my office with loyalty and integrity and have co-operated with every request that has been made of me since being removed from office in November 2018,” he said. “I am thankful for the many people who have supported me through this difficult time.”

Last November members of the legislative assembly voted unanimously to suspend Lenz and clerk Craig James, then the top staff person in the $80-million-a-year legislature, with pay.

At the time the RCMP confirmed it was investigating. Two special prosecutors are overseeing the continuing investigation.

Former Vancouver deputy police chief Doug LePard is also reviewing a complaint to the Office of the Police Complaint Commissioner last May that Lenz had contravened the Police Act. The results are expected to be made public soon and Global News is reporting that Lenz has seen a copy of the report on LePard’s investigation.

In two reports earlier this year, Plecas accused James and Lenz of taking improper vacation payouts, claiming and receiving retirement allowances they weren’t entitled to, billing the legislature for items that were for their personal use and removing property including alcohol from the legislature.

James and Lenz both rejected nearly every allegation made by Plecas.

The legislative assembly appointed retired Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin to investigate. In May she reported James had engaged in misconduct, and he soon after announced his retirement.

McLachlin found no evidence that Lenz had engaged in any misconduct.

Lenz told reporters at the time that he felt exonerated by McLachlin’s report and that he was confident he would be cleared. He said he wanted to return to work, but the house leaders for the NDP, Liberals and Greens made it clear that wouldn’t happen while the police investigation continues.

Auditor general Carol Bellringer’s report on spending at the legislature was released Sept. 19.

“We found a number of weaknesses and gaps in the expense policy framework, and where policies were in place, they weren’t always followed,” she wrote.

“We found that travel expenses were frequently made without clear documentation to support the purpose of travel, some expenses were made without appropriate approval, and purchases of items such as clothing and gifts were made in the absence of policy to guide those transactions.”

In a teleconference with reporters Bellringer said she regretted not following up on previous audits done in 2007, 2012 and 2013 on the legislature’s financial practices.

Less than a week after releasing the audit, Bellringer announced she was resigning for personal reasons.

The legislative assembly will appoint Lenz’s successor.

Story updated on Oct. 2, 2019 at 10:25 a.m. with additional information about a Police Act investigation of Gary Lenz.  [Tyee]

Read more: BC Politics

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