Committee still mulling Mullen report from last summer’s road trip
A report spurred by a legislature road trip conducted by Alan Mullen, chief of staff to Speaker Darryl Plecas, has been reviewed by a legislative committee, but it’s unclear when the public will get a look.
Mullen recently confirmed to BC Today that his report was delivered to the Legislative Assembly Management Committee in January but offered no explanation as to why it took approximately five months for the 56-page document to make its way to the committee.
Last summer, Mullen set off on a road trip to visit the capitals of three Canadian provinces and seven U.S. states to learn about their security practices.
The trip was prompted by fallout from the legislature spending scandal, which broke in November 2018 with the dramatic removal of legislative clerk Craig James and sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz from the legislative precinct.
Investigations conducted by Plecas and Mullen revealed spending at the B.C. legislature was “out of whack” with other legislatures — including $1.7 million spent on the legislative assembly protective services unit over five years. Mullen called the spending “unacceptable.”
Mullen said the goal of his road trip was to learn about security protocols at other legislatures and state houses.
The report was initially expected to be released last fall.
The month-long trip — which was originally budgeted at $10,000 and ended up costing $13,000 — drew criticism from Liberal MLAs, who suggested Mullen could have obtained the information without travelling on the taxpayers’ dime.
“I still don’t know why the Speaker’s friend has to jump in a car (and travel) across Western
Canada and the States to acquire information that is rather rudimentary,” Liberal MLA Jas Johal told the National Post last summer.
Johal dubbed the trip an “excellent summer adventure,” much to Mullen’s annoyance. For his part, Mullen characterized the trip as crucial to a “multi-jurisdictional, forward-looking review” that will “greatly benefit the B.C. legislature.”
The legislative clerk’s office confirmed to BC Today that LAMC received the report — titled Review of the Sergeant-at-Arms Department and Proposals for Reform — and “held an initial in camera discussion” about it during its February 13 meeting.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the committee — which last met on April 7 — has been dealing with “much bigger issues,” according to a source with knowledge of LAMC’s proceedings.
The date for the committee’s next meeting has not yet been set, but the review process on the report is resuming, per the clerk’s office.