The Speaker

In this 2009 file photo, sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz carries the mace and is followed by then-Speaker of the house Bill Barisoff at the opening of a special session of the legislature.

Bill Barisoff has some explaining to do.

The retired Okanagan-Boundary MLA and Speaker of the House was last year dragged into the spending scandal that rocked the B.C. legislature.

He was alleged in 2013 to have received one or two truckloads of booze from former clerk of the house Craig James.

Barisoff, who couldn’t be reached for comment Monday, sort of denied it in January, telling The Herald: “I never received $10,000 worth of alcohol at my house at any given time.”

However, the investigation report filed last week by retired Supreme Court of Canada judge Beverly McLachlin paints an unflattering portrait of Barisoff.

She concludes that at least one truckload of booze, along with a desk and chair, were loaded into James’ truck and driven to Barisoff in Penticton.

Barisoff’s memory was “not firm,” but he told McLachlin there were “a few cases” of wine involved, along with three bottles of port for which he paid $370.

Other people interviewed suggested the amount of booze ranged from five to 20 boxes.

Regardless, decided McLachlin, “I conclude that Mr. James knowingly removed a significant quantity of alcohol from the Legislative precinct without accounting for what he took or providing verifiable payment for it.”

But because Barisoff wasn’t the subject to the investigation, McLachlin makes no findings regarding his part in the scandal, which also included signing off on a sketchy retirement allowance for James and serving eight years as Speaker when the culture of entitlement apparently took hold in the Legislature.

It also leaves open the question of whether or not Barisoff took delivery of a substantial amount of booze on the taxpayer’s dime. It’s a question those same taxpayers deserve to have answered.

City editor Joe Fries

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