Plecas report includes alarming section about terminations at B.C. legislature during the Craig James era

    1 of 3 2 of 3

      Near the end of the 76-page report by Speaker Darryl Plecas, he writes about the termination of several employees at the B.C. legislature.

      This section doesn't include any names. But it paints a picture of a workplace where people were fired without notice and without any evidence of workplace malfeasance.

      "It appears that this practice of sudden without-cause terminations has fostered a culture of insecurity among staff in at least some of the departments of the Legislative Assembly that if employees spoke up about concerns or fell out of favour they could lose their jobs without warning," Plecas wrote. "As a result, staff have stayed quiet about what they have observed."

      He added that this was unhealthy for employees and the organization. And he emphasized that "in a number of cases, these without-cause terminations had no identifiable connection to the Clerk or the Sergeant-at-Arms".

      The clerk, Craig James, became the de facto CEO of the legislature when he was hired as clerk in 2011. The sergeant-at-arms, Gary Lenz, oversees security.

      Both men were placed on paid administrative leave in November after it was revealed that the RCMP was conducting a criminal investigation into their conduct.

      No charges have been laid and none of the allegations in Plecas's report have been proven in court. It pointed to many questionable expenses charged to taxpayers by James and Lenz, who've each denied any wrongdoing.

      "I know I have done nothing wrong," Lenz said at a news conference on November 26.

      The two senior legislature officials have maintained that they were not given an opportunity to respond to Plecas's statements before they were published and released.

      In the section of the report dealing with firings, Plecas pointed out that an abrupt termination can undermine an employee's confidence and sense of self-worth.

      Moreover, he added, a public employer "should be setting a standard for respectful workplace practices and appropriate practices in relation to supervision and discipline".

      The clerk of the legislature, Craig James, has insisted that he's innocent of any wrongdoing.
      CBC screen shot

      Employees of the legislative assembly are not members of a union and, according to Plecas, they're not protected by the Employment Standards Act and Human Rights Code.

      "Some of the people who were fired were long-time employees who had built lives and families around their jobs at the Legislative Assembly," Plecas wrote. "Had they been notified that there was a need for improvement in some respect or other, they say they would have worked hard to meet whatever standard was imposed.

      "Many loved their jobs at the Legislature and expressed a sense of pride in being part of such a venerable and important public institution."

      The speaker acknowledged that there are two sides to a story when an employee is terminated.

      "However," he added, "there is enough of a pattern to the accounts of people who shared their stories with the Speaker, and reports from former managers about how termination decisions were made, to support a strong impression that this is a matter that requires examination."

      Today, the Vancouver Sun posted an interview on YouTube with an aide to Plecas, Alan Mullen.

      He mentioned that close to 20 people have told him and Plecas that they were dismissed without cause.

      According to Mullen, they were often required to sign confidentiality agreements.

      You can watch a video of his remarks below.

      Alan Mullen spoke to the Vancouver Sun's Lori Culbert about B.C. legislature firings.