Speaker of the House Darryl Plecas. (The Canadian Press)

Opposition pushes for emergency meeting amid B.C. legislature turmoil

Speaker’s office agreed to Tuesday meeting, but Liberal house leader wants one first thing Monday

B.C.’s Speaker of the house is being defended by his new special adviser as the Opposition Liberals push for an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss the ongoing turmoil in the legislature.

The legislature has faced upheaval since Tuesday when members voted unanimously to suspend sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz and Clerk Craig James due to an ongoing RCMP investigation related to their administrative duties.

Speaker Darryl Plecas hired his first special adviser — his friend Alan Mullen — in January to look into his concerns about the two officials. In August, his office forwarded information to the Mounties, who are also being assisted by two special prosecutors.

The Speaker’s office has agreed to arrange a meeting of the Legislative Assembly Management Committee on Tuesday afternoon, but Liberal house leader Mary Polak is pushing for the committee to meet as early as 7 a.m. Monday.

Polak released a sworn affidavit this week that said Plecas proposed installing Mullen as the acting sergeant-at-arms, which she described as “inappropriate.”

Plecas appointed Wally Oppal, a former B.C. Liberal MLA and attorney general, to be his second special adviser on Thursday, and Oppal says the Speaker obtained “significant” legal advice before taking any of his actions in this case.

“I’m not going to get involved in the political aspects … but I can tell you that he acted in good faith and I’m there now to assist him,” Oppal said Saturday.

“The Speaker of the House really is in a quasi-judicial position in that he rules on things in the legislature. He attempted to explain that to the media last week because he wanted the public to be clarified as to what was happening.”

READ MORE: Timeline of events in RCMP investigation at B.C. legislature

Oppal added that the Speaker shouldn’t be in a position where he’s briefing the media and Oppal is now speaking on his behalf instead.

Plecas is a former Liberal member of the legislature who was ejected from the party after he accepted an offer to become Speaker under the NDP and Greens’ power-sharing agreement. The Speaker does not cast a vote on bills, so his decision ensured the two ruling parties had 44 votes and the Liberals had 42.

In the event of a tie, the Speaker casts a vote to break it.

NDP house leader Mike Farnworth and Green house leader Sonia Furstenau did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the Liberals’ push for an emergency meeting.

The Legislative Assembly Management Committee is an all-party committee chaired by the Speaker and made up of Polak, Farnworth, Furstenau, and a few other top legislature members. Its role is to develop policies for the administration and financial management of the legislative assembly.

On Friday, a lawyer for Lenz and James released a letter calling on the legislature to urgently rescind the motion to place the two men on administrative leave. Attorney Mark Andrews said the men deny any wrongdoing and do not know why they have been placed on leave.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Voters in Saanich North and the Islands, here lining up outside Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre on the first day of advanced voting, are among the provincial leaders in getting in their votes early, with some 20 per cent (10,174) of eligible voters have already cast their ballots. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
It’s Election Day in B.C.: Here’s what you need to know to vote

B.C.’s snap election has already broken records for advance voter turnout, mail-in ballots

Ben Williams, second from left, receives the Rotary Club of Duncan Student of the Month Award for September from club president Gregg Perry and Student of the Month program coordinator Kim Barnard. To the left is teacher sponsor Tom Veenstra. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Duncan Christian standout is Rotary Student of the Month for September

Ben Williams has made an impression at DCS since day one

Cowichan LMG’s Michael Fusick plows through a Nanaimo defender during last Friday’s game at the Sherman Road turf. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Depth a concern for Cowichan LMG

Div. 1 club expecting reinforcements soon

The City of Duncan is applying to the province for a grant that would cover most of the costs of the new Cairnsmore roundabout that is planned the intersection of Government, College and Cairnsmore streets. (File photo)
City of Duncan looking to grant to cover cost of Cairnsmore traffic circle

Federal government would cover 60%, province would pick up the other 40%.

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

BC Liberals Leader Andrew Wilkinson, BC Greens Sonia Furstenau, BC NDP John Horgan (The Canadian Press photos)
British Columbians vote in snap election called during COVID-19 pandemic

At dissolution, the NDP and Liberals were tied with 41 seats in the legislature, while the Greens held two seats

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

Most Read