Speaker Linda Reid enters B.C. legislature chamber for throne speech, led by former sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz and followed by legislature clerk Craig James, June 26, 2013. (Chad Hipolito/The Canadian Press)

B.C.’s longest-serving female MLA announces retirement after 28 years

Ex-speaker Linda Reid silent on legislature liquor removal

Former B.C. legislature speaker Linda Reid is retiring from politics at the end of her seventh term, as the longest-serving current MLA and the longest-serving woman in the province’s history.

Reid has represented her Richmond constituency since 1991, the year of former B.C. Liberal leader Gordon Wilson’s breakthrough to replace Social Credit as the dominant centre-right party in provincial politics.

Reid said in a statement issued by the party that she intends to continue serving as Richmond South Centre MLA and B.C. Liberal critic for seniors until the next B.C. election, scheduled for the fall of 2021.

Reid served as B.C. legislature speaker from 2013 to April 2017, and assistant deputy speaker during the NDP government that followed. She resigned from that role in February 2019 after being named in current Speaker Darryl Plecas’ report alleging financial improprieties by senior legislature officials.

Plecas cited an unnamed “whistleblower” who claimed to have been fired after questioning Reid’s expense claims for a taxi to the Helijet terminal in Vancouver and vehicle mileage after she arrived in Victoria. Former sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz checked receipts on file and determined that was appropriate use of MLA travel expenses to travel from Richmond.

RELATED: Speaker Reid repays husband’s South Africa airfare

RELATED: Linda Reid gives up role as assistant deputy speaker

Lenz and former B.C. legislature clerk Craig James have since resigned as Plecas continues his investigations into spending, travel and treatment of legislature staff during their time as top administrators. In addition to an RCMP investigation that is still ongoing with two special prosecutors overseeing it, Plecas retained former Vancouver Police deputy chief Doug LePard to interview staff members and others, including Reid.

LePard’s report, released with many blanked-out portions in September, relates how Reid declined to be interviewed about witness accounts of the removal of large quantities of liquor from the legislature and allegedly loaded into James’ pickup truck in 2013.

Reid responded in writing via her lawyer, who refused to answer questions about the liquor incidents, calling the questions outside the scope of LePard’s inquiry.

According to LePard’s report, a legislature staffer identified only as “Witness 7” told LePard he was asked by Lenz to load a desk, chair and liquor into James’ truck on April 19, 2013, to take to retiring speaker Bill Barisoff at his Penticton-area home.

The report states Witness 7 said a second load of liquor was put in the truck the following Monday, April 22, describing enough wine and sealed and opened cases of hard liquor to fill the truck’s box.

Reid had her own controversy over spending during her time as speaker, after travelling to South Africa with her husband to a Commonwealth Parliamentary Association conference. Reid eventually repaid the $5,528 cost of her husband’s business-class airfare to Johannesburg in August 2013.

Deputy speaker and Burnaby NDP MLA Raj Chouhan and his wife also attended, but then-NDP caucus chair Shane Simpson said they flew economy and stayed at a budget hotel in Johannesburg, at a combined cost of $6,300.

B.C. speakers, deputy speakers and legislative clerks traditionally attend these Commonwealth conferences, aimed a strengthening parliamentary practices around the world.


@tomfletcherbc
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