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

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

Food For the Soul is taking part in the Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser.
New Maple Ridge charity hosts Coldest Night of the Year fundraiser

Food For the Soul will host annual event that has moved online for 2021

The City of Pitt Meadows is one of 26 communities in B.C. to receive assistance as part of the Housing Needs Report program. (The News files)
Pitt Meadows receives 30K from province to assess housing needs

City CAO Mark Roberts said funding will help provide important tool to identify housing gaps

Ridge Meadows RCMP Insp. Wendy Mehat. (Black Press files)
Insp. Mehat officer in charge of Ridge Meadows Detachment

Takes over for Jennifer Hyland, who has gone to new Surrey Police Service

The Independent Investigations Office of BC (IIO) is looking into the death of man discovered Jan. 11 in east Maple Ridge. (Black Press files)
B.C.’s police watchdog investigating man’s death in Maple Ridge

Man was found dead Jan. 11 after recent contact with police

Staff at Bruce’s Country Market are being asked to monitor for symptoms of COVID-19 after an exposure at the Maple Ridge grocery store. (The News files)
Employee at Maple Ridge grocery store tests positive for COVID-19

All other staff in the department have tested negative for disease

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

FILE – Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers his opening remarks at a news conference outside Rideau cottage in Ottawa, Tuesday, January 19, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Vaccine CEO ‘very, very clear’ that Canada’s contracts will be honoured: Trudeau

Trudeau says he spoke to Moderna CEO on the morning of Jan. 26

Ben Tyler was working on a Nicola area ranch when he disappeared. File photo
Ben Tyler was working on a Nicola area ranch when he disappeared. File photo
2 years after his riderless horse was found, police believe Merritt cowboy was killed

Two years after he went missing, Ben Tyner’s family makes video plea for information

A ground worker wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 unloads lobsters from a WestJet Airlines flight at Vancouver International Airport, in Richmond, B.C., on Thursday, January 21, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Trudeau teases stricter travel measures; Canadians flying to U.S. now need COVID test

Prime minister says measures need to not hurt imports and essential trade

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Seats in the waiting area of domestic departures lounge of Calgary International Airport are seen with caution tape on them on June 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
3-in-4 Canadians in favour of banning interprovincial travel: Poll

According to Research Co., 80 per cent of Canadians would like to see restrictions imposed

ICBC has seen savings on crash and injury claims in the COVID-19 pandemic, with traffic on B.C. roads reduced. (Penticton Western News)
ICBC opens online calculator for rate savings starting in May

Bypassing courts expected to save 20% on average

(AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
16% boom predicted for B.C. real estate sales in 2021: experts

Along with sales, the average price of homes is also predicted to rise, by nearly 8 percent

The trial of Harry Richardson began Monday at the Nelson courthouse. File photo
Trial of man accused of shooting RCMP officer in West Kootenay in 2019 begins

Harry Richardson is facing five charges in a Nelson courtroom

Most Read