IEC didn't OK extra cash for Walsh

Rob Antle
Send to a friend

Send this article to a friend.

Former speaker says he didn't know about secret minutes

A former Speaker of the House of Assembly has offered a conflicting view of who was responsible for decisions that hid the details on enhanced benefits for MHAs from public disclosure.

Lloyd Snow said it was the staff at the House, not the politicians, who altered meeting minutes to conceal new perks for politicians.

Former MHA Jim Walsh awaits the start of testimony at his fraud trial Wednesday as former Speaker of the House Lloyd Snow (right) waits to testify. - Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

A former Speaker of the House of Assembly has offered a conflicting view of who was responsible for decisions that hid the details on enhanced benefits for MHAs from public disclosure.

Lloyd Snow said it was the staff at the House, not the politicians, who altered meeting minutes to conceal new perks for politicians.

But Snow also testified that the powerful commission of MHAs in charge of the legislature's finances did not approve additional cash for Jim Walsh.

Walsh - a former Liberal MHA and cabinet minister - is on trial for fraud over $5,000, breach of trust by a public officer and frauds on government.

The charges relate to excess claims totalling $159,316 from his taxpayer-funded constituency allowance between 1998 and 2004.

Snow was on the stand Wednesday as a prosecution witness.

As Speaker, Snow was chairman of the Internal Economy Commission, or IEC, from 1995 through the fall of 2003.

The IEC was the secretive committee in charge of House affairs.

Under questioning from Crown attorney Frances Knickle, Snow said the commission did not give Walsh permission to spend more than his published limit.

"No request came to the IEC," Snow testified. "We did not deal with it and there was no permission given through the IEC for these types of expenditures."

From April 2002 until his defeat in the October 2003 general election, Walsh had a constituency allowance limit of $61,000, plus HST.

He actually claimed more than $200,000. The money went into Walsh's bank account.

Over the course of the trial, defence lawyer Vernon French has stressed the disarray at the House and lack of financial controls over spending.

During cross-examination, French pressed Snow on whether he knew about a second, secret set of IEC minutes that contained information on additional benefits for politicians.

Snow said he didn't, and assumed the public minutes were "reflective" of the secret minutes.

Led through examples where the minutes differed, Snow had no explanation.

"I certainly didn't know it and I don't know why," he told the court. "You'll have to ask Mr. Noel."

In previous testimony, John Noel pointed the finger at the politicians, saying they directed him to change the minutes to omit embarrassing information on benefits.

Until he retired in 2006, Noel was the clerk of the House - the top civil servant in the legislature.

But Wednesday, Snow pointed the finger right back at Noel, saying he prepared the minutes.

"I certainly never made any changes or directed him to make any changes," Snow said.

The former Speaker testified he was largely unaware of much going on in the office - especially as it related to the legislature's financial affairs - leaving those matters to staff. His testimony is scheduled to continue this morning.

The Crown's case is expected to wrap up by the end of the week. One more witness - the forensic accountant for Operation Radius, the RNC investigation into the House spending scandal - is expected to appear. The defence will then have the opportunity to call its own slate of witnesses. The trial is expected to continue until at least the end of next week.

rantle@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Internal Economy Commission

  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Thanks for voting!

Top of page

Comments

Comments