'Can never happen again': Political reaction to court ruling in B.C. legislature spending scandal

The legislative spending scandal started with a moment many won't soon forget: The top official, who was supposed to be appointed for life, being escorted out of the building and placed on administrative leave.

Premier John Horgan said that started a dark chapter for many who work at the legislature.

"It was a difficult time for the people who worked here," said Horgan, adding: "It was definitely a blow to all of those who care about this place."

With allegations of lavish spending and few controls of how taxpayer dollars were being used, public confidence was shaken. The Legislative Assembly Management Committee faced questions about whether top officials spent taxpayer dollars like it was the Wild West.

Government house leader Mike Farnworth is on that committee.

"I think all of us in this building were disappointed by the events that took place. It was a very sad day for this institution," he told reporters on Wednesday, after former legislature clerk Craig James was found guilty of fraud and breach of trust

Farnworth also pointed to work that's been happening to tighten controls and proactively and publicly disclose expenses.

That includes new spending controls, strengthened workplace policies, more oversight and clear direction on accountabilities.

Farnworth called the changes "significant," saying they will "ensure what happened with Mr. James can never happen again."

For months, then speaker Darryl Plecas battled to prove the wrongdoing he saw was criminal. He asked for independent reports to verify the claims.

The new speaker, Raj Chouhan, wasn't available for an interview. In a statement, he outlined many of the activities taking place to make sure taxpayer dollars are spent with care.

The statement reads, in part: “With enhanced oversight and increased transparency, we are a leader in parliamentary governance in Canada.”

Given the breach of trust and fraud convictions, asking the public to have faith may be a big ask.