Infamous B.C. legislature wood splitter seized again by RCMP

The infamous wood splitter purchased with taxpayer money that became the symbol of B.C.’s legislature spending scandal has been seized again by the RCMP.

Allan Mullen, special adviser to B.C. Speaker Daryl Plecas, said police reached out Wednesday about taking the splitter and its associated trailer, and picked the items up Thursday morning.

The wood splitter was possibly the most eye-catching item on a list of questionable expenses Plecas unearthed in a bombshell 2019 report that eventually cost former legislature clerk Craig James and sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz their jobs.

The wood splitter was initially seized from James’ Vancouver Island property in 2018 when police began investigating the matter and James and Lenz were — at the time — mysteriously put on leave.

In his defence, James said the wood splitter was purchased for “earthquake preparedness and disaster recovery” and could be used to rescue people and also for firewood if there was no heat in the legislature building.

Other items detailed in Plecas’ report included high-end suits and watches, a luggage set, digital subscriptions and travel.

James retired after an independent investigation by former chief justice Beverly McLachlin found he committed administrative misconduct.

That report cleared Lenz of any wrongdoing, but he later retired following another report by former Vancouver deputy police chief Doug LePard that found he had committed an “egregious breach of public trust,” by lying about a 2013 incident where publicly paid-for alcohol was loaded in James’ car.

An RCMP investigation into the matter remains ongoing.

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