Abbotsford South MLA Darryl Plecas says he turned down several offers to become speaker of the legislature under an NDP government.
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 BC Liberal colleagues. That blessing wasn’t forthcoming, and for good reason, Plecas told The News Tuesday.
“It would not be appropriate for us to be propping up an NDP/Green alliance to stay in power.” He said the public hadn’t voted with any single voice for an NDP/Green government.
He added: “I was elected as a Liberal. It would be very disrespectful of me, very dishonourable, for me to – what … would in effect be crossing the floor.”
While a speaker is independent, Plecas said the split legislature and the narrow advantage sought by the NDP and Greens would mean that taking the position would be detrimental to the party and agenda chosen by his voters.
Plecas said he didn’t take the offer particularly seriously, because he wasn’t sure how many other BC Liberals might have been offered the gig.
The BC Liberals are set to put forward a throne speech this week that is expected to showcase new policies on social issues and possibly increases to social assistance rates.
Plecas said it’s “arrogant and dismissive” for the Greens and the NDP to have already pledged to vote against the throne speech without hearing what it includes.
Asked if the BC Liberals would do the same for an NDP throne speech, Plecas pledged to listen to it before making a decision.
Plecas said he was “very confident” that his party could win another election, should the lieutenant-governor decide that it’s not tenable or stable for the speaker to hold the balance of power in a split legislature.
He said another election could give his party a second chance to tell voters more about its record on issues beyond job creation – the BC Liberals’ central message of the last campaign.
Plecas was hopeful the last result would be a “wake-up call” for voters who stayed at home in May.
“I think there would be a heightened interest all over the province about what the outcome could mean and I think another election would give us an opportunity to tell our story better.”
He said constituents he has heard from have been looking forward to another election, although he acknowledged that may reflect the opinion of his supporters, rather than all Abbotsford South residents.