Friday, May 31, 2019

Chaotic end to Legislature session, leaves Speaker Darryl Plecas once again the centre of attention!

Speaker Daryl Plecas once agin is the centre of attention in Victoria,
following a week of office drama at the Legislature

I rise pursuant to Standing Order 26 on a matter of personal privilege. I have become aware of behaviour and conduct undertaken by the Speaker with respect to senior officers and employees of this Legislative Assembly that I believe to be improper and compromises the ability of those officers to independently perform their duties. 

 I have further become aware of activities undertaken by the Speaker, including the seizure of records, including electronic records, that I believe constitute improper conduct with respect to my rights as a member of this assembly and impede my personal freedoms as a member of this assembly.  

 Insofar as the Speaker serves as the presiding officer of this assembly, I wish to disassociate myself for all purposes, including any subsequent litigation from these actions, which I believe constitute a breach of the individual and collective privileges of this House and a contempt for this House. -- Skeena MLA Ellis Ross, one of 38 Liberals delivering the exact same message in the House Chamber at the end of the Spring Session of the BC Legislature

The final day of the Spring Session for 2019 at the BC Legislature ended much as the Fall Session for 2018 did, featuring some political deja vu and leaving Speaker Daryl Plecas as the ever present centre of attention.

That all coming as the Liberal opposition raised more concerns about the office machinations of the Speaker of the House, a man who seems to court controversy with every turn of the corridors of the parliament buildings in Victoria.

On Thursday evening in the final minutes before the House adjourned for the foreseeable future, Liberal members, one after another rose to speak, delivering the same statement as that of Mr. Ross featured above.

Collectively the Liberals delivered more towards their ongoing concerns, particularly when it comes to the whirlwind of activities that seem to surround the Speaker at the end of each session.

Mr. Plecas once again grabbed the headlines this week after he had ordered copies of hard drives to be made of Legislature staff members under the call of securing data.

That edict ordered amid reports that were made public of him  referring to the recent investigation by former Supreme Court Judge Beverly McLachlin as "pathetic" and the former judge as "stupid".

For his part, in subsequent interviews on the theme, the Speaker referred to those comments as ridiculous, even though the account of the commentary was relayed from Liberals in the room at the time.

Some of the snippets of Ms. McLachlin's report, which the government has not yet released in full to the public,  suggest that the retired Justice had offered some criticism of the Speaker for the nature of his secretive investigation of the fall when it came to spending and other staff activities at the Legislature.

In this week's drama, Legislature staff members were clearly feeling the pressure of what seems to at times be a pretty toxic work environment, with one said to have left a meeting in tears and a few others deciding that the time was nigh to make a departure from the work site.

Those who had decided that retirement from their posts as the session came to an end was wise,  earned the praise of the Premier as well as MLA's in attendance from the morning session ringing in their ears as they bade their farewell.

I rise today to give thanks and bid a warm farewell to two people who have been working — and he's already shaking his head — in this institution for a long time: Randy Ennis, Acting Sergeant-at-Arms, and Ron Huck, our security operations commander. 

Both of these individuals, outstanding people, will be leaving the Legislature this week. I wanted to bid them farewell.

As the Spring session wrapped up yesterday, the Liberals having no faith in Mr. Plecas (a former Liberal MLA and caucus member) were again suggesting that it was time for a new Speaker to be put in place, an offer of which Premier Horgan has rejected.

Not a moment too soon, the legislature now stands adjourned until House Leader Mike Farnworth indicates that there is government business at hand and a return to the House is issued, something not expected sometime this fall, pending any form of provincial emergency.

That means that, much like the Christmas break provided for at the end of 2018 and a few instances before, the chaos surrounding the Speaker is now set to make for one of the key stories to follow through these dog days of summer politics in British Columbia.

February 2019 -- Quiet week for Northwest MLA's as Legislature returns
January 2019 -- Report from Speaker Plecas makes for page after page of revelations on Legislature spending
November 2018 -- BC Legislature breaks for Christmas with NDP looking to showcase highlights; but trapped by public's view of chaotic end
November 2018 -- Controversy swirls around Legislature Speaker over ousting of officials
September 2017 -- Testy opening for Throne Speech as NDP introduce Liberal Daryl Plecas as Speaker

The bizarre happenings of the week were chronicled by all of the province's heavy hitters of political coverage, some of the notes can be found below.

May 30 -- Premier rejects Liberal offer for a new Speaker
May 30 -- BC Premier rejects Liberal calls to dump legislature Speaker Darryl Plecas
May 30 -- With House adjourned, who is watching Inspector Plecas?
May 30 -- Like a bull in a China Shop, Speaker Plecas can't be controlled
May 30 -- BC speaker sparks uproar in legislature as he copies hard drives of acting top officers for another probe
May 30 -- BC Legislature in an uproar over another investigation by Speaker Daryl Plecas
May 30 -- Crisis meeting held at BC legislature over Plecas's move to 'safeguard data'
May 30 -- BC Liberals raise 'grave concerns' over Speaker's actions in cloning hard drives of senior legislature staff
May 30 -- Speaker Darryl Plecas survives a day of chaos in the legislature

More notes on the Legislature can be found from our archive page, as well as from our political portal D'Arcy McGee.

To return to the most recent blog posting of the day, click here.

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