Abbotsford MLA Darryl Plecas named speaker

Abbotsford MLA Darryl Plecas named speaker

He previously turned down offer of the job

Abbotsford South MLA Darryl Plecas will be Speaker of the B.C. legislature for the NDP government.

Interim B.C. Liberal leader Rich Coleman said Plecas has “effectively” left the BC Liberal caucus.

In June, Plecas rebuffed offers from the NDP to sit as Speaker, before B.C. Liberal leader Christy Clark resigned. He told The News that while being Speaker “is a very honourable job,” Plecas said he told those who offered him the position that he wouldn’t do so “without the full blessing” of his B.C. Liberal colleagues. He said to do so would be “dishonourable.”

But after Christy Clark attempted to trigger a new election, Plecas spoke out against her continued leadership.

Coleman said Plecas’s criticism of Clark did “not in any way” lead to Plecas defying the party.

“In fact the caucus talked about that in August and welcomed him to stay in the caucus,” Coleman said. “On numerous occasions he reiterated to the caucus and to me he had no intentions whatsoever of running for Speaker. I took him at his word.”

MLAs vote by secret ballot to elect the Speaker, a job made more difficult this time by the minority NDP government being supported on key votes by the three B.C. Green Party MLAs elected in May.

The resignation of Clark and the election of Plecas as Speaker effectively gives the NDP-Green alliance a three-vote margin until the Kelowna West seat is filled in a by-election that must be called by early in 2018. Assuming all MLAs are present for votes of confidence that could defeat the government, it means the Speaker would not have to cast a vote to break a tie.

Green Party leader Andrew Weaver congratulated Plecas.

“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.’

RELATED: BC Liberal MLA Plecas confirms that he threatened to quit party if Clark stayed leader