Sergeant at Arms Gary Lenz and Clerk of the House Craig James. (Black Press files)

Legal battle ahead for suspended B.C. legislature executives

Public removal ‘very unfair,’ says veteran clerk Craig James

After turning in his keys and phone and before being escorted out of the B.C. legislature by police, Clerk of the House Craig James said one of his first calls would be to a lawyer.

Neither he nor Sergeant at Arms Gary Lenz was given any indication of what allegations against them are subject of an RCMP investigation that has gone on since at least September, James said. He and Lenz were summoned by Speaker Darryl Plecas to his office immediately after question period Tuesday and informed they were being placed on administrative leave.

“It’s disturbing,” James said as he emerged from his office with his cycling gear under his arm. “It’s not the way I would have handled it, and I know it would not be the way the sergeant at arms would have handled it, given many illustrious years in the RCMP and other policing agencies.”

As the top administrative and security officials, James and Lenz would normally be the ones in charge of having someone removed, whether politician or staff. James, who started his parliamentary career in Saskatchewan in 1978, said he and Lenz are owed an explanation for their sudden exit.

“Somebody knows something, and I think out of the fairness principle, both Gary and I should be informed being placed on administrative leave exactly what is involved,” James said. “I think it’s very unfair, very unfortunate and very disappointing.”

RELATED: Two prosecutors oversee RCMP investigation at legislature

The legislature session continues until next Tuesday, with a stack of bills that still need debate. The clerk’s role is to provide legal guidance to the speaker and control the flow of paperwork. That duty falls to Kate Ryan-Lloyd, the clerk of committees.

A senior legislature security officer is filling in for Lenz, whose ceremonial duty is to carry the ornate mace into the B.C. legislature to signal the start of proceedings.


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