B.C. Legislature approves motion to appoint former chief justice to investigate spending scandal

Ashley Moliere / March 7th 2018

McLachlin was first female chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.
(Gervásio Baptista / wikimedia commons)

The B.C. Legislature formally approved former Supreme Court of Canada chief justice Beverley McLachlin Thursday morning. She will lead the investigation into the allegations made against Clerk of the House Craig James and Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz for overspending public funds.

According to the motion, McLachlin’s job will be to investigate whether or not James and Lenz engaged in misconduct while working at the legislature. As Special Investigator, McLachlin will be able to compel witnesses, other documents and other evidence. She will also be responsible for reviewing the Plecas report, its addendum, the responses from James and Lenz, and legal submissions. The motion outlined that she needs to submit her findings by May 3rd, 2019.

In January 2019, House Speaker Darryl Plecas released a scathing 76-page report claiming James and Lenz engaged in gross overspending of public money. Some of the allegations include lavish work trips, the purchasing of a truckload of alcohol and spending $3,200 on a wood chipper. Both had previously been suspended from the legislature in November 2018 and are currently still suspended. James and Lenz deny all wrongdoing and none of the allegations have been proven in court.

Who is Beverley McLachlin?

Beverley McLachlin was born in Pincher Creek, Alberta in 1943. She studied law at the University of Alberta and was called to the bar in 1969. McLachlin was a tenured associate producer at UBC and was appointed to the County Court of Vancouver. Before becoming the first female chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada in 2000, McLachlin was a provincial Supreme Court justice in British Columbia. She was the longest serving chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada. She retired in December 2017 after serving seventeen years on the bench.

Interestingly, McLachlin’s name was mentioned in Gerald Butts’ testimony Wednesday as the person the Prime Minister’s Office wanted Jody Wilson-Raybould to consult with regarding the fate of SNC-Lavalin.