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

Calls for potential overdoses in B.C. spiked in 2020, especially in the Okanagan - Shuswap. Pictured above is a BCEHS re-enactment of paramedics attending an overdose. (BCHES)
Overdose calls spike in 2020 across the Okanagan – Shuswap

Stats show every major community in Okanagan - Shuswap increased in calls for potential overdoses

(Stock photo)
EDITORIAL: COVID-19 restrictions continue to affect us all

Canada has recorded more than 700,000 confirmed cases of pandemic

A couple living at the Summerland Waterfront Resort is trying to sell their unit because of strata changes which will require them to pay significantly higher strata fees or have their unit included in the resort’s rental pool (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
Permanent residents of Summerland resort must move or face major fee increase

Permanent residents of Summerland Waterfront Resort told fees will more than double

Amanda Parsons, a registered nurse on staff at the Northwood Care facility, administers a dose of the Moderna vaccine to Ann Hicks, 77, in Halifax on Monday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan-Pool
61 new COVID-19 cases, two more deaths in Interior Health

Twenty-nine people are in hospital, seven of whom are in intensive care

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
253 new COVID-19 cases, 4 more deaths in Interior Health over the weekend

More than 1,000 cases in the region remain active

Charlotte is one of the resident pigs at Star's Piggly Wiggly's Sanctuary near Kelowna. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
Kelowna-area pig sanctuary needs a new home

Star’s Piggly Wiggly’s Sanctuary is looking for properties in Vernon, Coldstream, and Enderby

Inspection of bridge crossing on a B.C. forest service road. (B.C. Forest Practices Board)
B.C. falling behind in maintenance of forest service roads

Auditor finds nearly half of bridges overdue for repair

A cow moose wanders around the Silver Star Elementary School neighbourhood Tuesday, Jan. 19. (Contributed)
Public provoking blamed for moose chasing Okanagan residents

‘The problem is people are bugging it’ conservation officer

(Black Press Media files)
Woman steals bottles of wine after brandishing stun baton in New Westminster

Police say the female suspect was wearing a beige trench coat with fur lining

Stand up paddleboarder Christie Jamieson is humbled to her knees as a pod of transient orcas put on a dramatic show on Jan. 19 in the Ucluelet Harbour. (Nora O’Malley photo)
UPDATED WITH VIDEO: Vancouver Island paddle boarder surrounded by pod of orcas

“My whole body is still shaking. I don’t even know what to do with this energy.”

Ladybug Landing Child Care Centre in Salmon Arm remains open as one person who was at the facility tested positive for COVID-19. (Lachlan Labere/Salmon Arm Observer)
Salmon Arm daycare owner upset by rumours related to positive COVID-19 test

Ladybug Landing’s Leigh-Anne Chapman impressed by response from Interior Health

The proposed Skaha Lake Road housing project will be modelled after the Burdock House on Winnipeg St., said BC Housing.
BC Housing panel peppered with questions about Skaha housing project

Virtual meeting involved questions about crime, level of supports, timelines

The Regional District of North Okanagan is cautioning residents to watch for rock slides along the Okanagan Rail Trail during freeze-thaw season. (RDNO photo)
Residents urged to watch for rockfalls on Okanagan Rail Trail

RDNO reminds rail trail travellers to heed rockfall warning signs during freeze-thaw season

Toronto’s Mass Vaccination Clinic is shown on Sunday January 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Canadian malls, conference centres, hotels offer up space for COVID vaccination centres

Commercial real estate association REALPAC said that a similar initiative was seeing success in the U.K.

Most Read