Today the legislature resumed sitting and our first order of business was to elect a speaker. I am absolutely thrilled that Dr. Darryl Plecas, the MLA from Abbotsford South was duly elected.
I got to know Darryl over the last few years and must say I cannot imagine a better person for the position. He is a principled man of exceptional ethics and high moral standards.
Shortly after an article appeared in Abbotsford News on August 4th, wherein Darryl Plecas confirmed he had threatened to resign if Christy Clark stayed on as premier, I phoned him up and and asked if he would be willing to have his name stand as speaker. We had a long conversation and I certainly got the sense that he was interested. I was delighted to see him follow through on that interest today.
Tradition in the house is for both government and official opposition house leaders to drag the speaker to the chair. This tradition embodies the apparent reluctance of the newly elected speaker to take on the role. A humerous moment occurred when Liberal house leader Mike de Jong whispered to Darryl Plecas and Mike Farnworth (directly in front of where I was sitting) “In this case even token resistance will be taken as disingenuous.”
But humour ended there. The BC Liberals displayed a remarkable lack of grace and acted in a manner most unbecoming of MLAs. BC Liberal MLAs were instructed not to clap as the Speaker moved to the chair. This form of passive aggressive bullying has no business in the chamber and frankly, I think the Liberal caucus should be ashamed of themselves.
To make matters even worse, and in what can only be described as a classless act, the Interim Leader of the BC Liberals, Rich Coleman broke tradition and instead of offering his congratulations, gave the Speaker a lecture:
R. Coleman: The role of Speaker is fundamental to our parliamentary democracy. As Speaker you are in charge of ensuring that the traditions of this House are respected. As Speaker you’re responsible for ensuring that the majority and the minority are equally heard in the chamber. As Speaker your job is to protect the integrity of the institution and always to act honourably.
There will be times when the Legislature becomes raucous, and the Speaker must have the fortitude to make decisions guided in this chamber by things that happened over the last hundred years. Mr. Speaker, we hope you live up to those standards.
Compare that to the congratulatory remarks delivered by Premier Horgan:
Hon. J. Horgan: Hon. Speaker, I rise to offer my congratulations to you as the Speaker of the people’s House. The people in their wisdom sent and an equal number of members from two political parties and a third party to support the work of the great province that we happen to be living in. I am so delighted that you’ve taken up the challenge of keeping us honest, keeping us fair and keeping us on course.
Of course, for the people of B.C., this is not about partisanship. This is about a new government and a new opportunity. I fully expect those on the other side of the House to keep us accountable, and I fully expect members on this side of the House to be respectful to the questions asked and, most importantly, respectful to you and the office that you hold.
I can’t tell you how happy I am to look forward to working with you over the next number of years to make B.C. better.
With that, Hon. Speaker, the best of luck to you. You have our full support. I look forward to working with you in our House for all of the interests that British Columbians want us to achieve in the days and years ahead.
Below is the statement that I released concerning the appointment of a Speaker.
Weaver statement on MLA Darryl Plecas becoming Speaker
For immediate release
September 8, 2017
VICTORIA, B.C. – Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green Party, issued the following statement in response to Darryl Plecas becoming Speaker.
“I am delighted to congratulate Darryl, who has been declared Speaker of the Legislative Assembly,” Weaver said.
“Darryl is known by his colleagues in the Legislature as a person of exceptional ethics and high moral standards. He will undoubtedly serve with dignity and honour as Speaker of this House.
“Darryl’s willingness to stand for Speaker is an encouraging sign that the MLAs of all parties will be able to work together in a productive, collaborative session. We have an historic opportunity to work across party lines to advance good public policy that serves the interests of British Columbians. I look forward to finally getting on with the business of the Legislature to do just that.”
Jillian Oliver, Press Secretary
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