At the centre of a tumultuous week at the B.C. legislature is a name that won’t be familiar to many casual observers of provincial and Fraser Valley politics: Alan Mullen.
But Mullen has a long past with his boss, the Speaker of the Legislature – and Abbotsford South MLA – Darryl Plecas, who appointed Mullen his special adviser nearly a year ago. It wasn’t clear at the time, but Mullen now says that one of his main tasks was investigating unnamed issues within the administration of the legislature.
Mullen made those remarks Wednesday. The following day, questions were raised about Plecas trying to get Mullen made the legislature’s new sergeant-at-arms.
So who, exactly, is Mullen?
The News spoke to him this spring for a story about constituency assistants.
Mullen may be new to the public, but he has been involved in provincial politics for more than two decades, working on campaigns for both major parties.
Mullen moved to Canada from Ireland in 1994 and soon after began working for the NDP, he told The News this spring. He said he did a “couple campaigns” for the party beginning in 1996, but described himself as “non-partisan” and said he had just felt an affinity for the party’s platform.
Mullen eventually got a job in corrections as an administrator at Kent Institution, in Agassiz. It was there that he first met Plecas, who moonlighted as a prison judge while teaching at the University of the Fraser Valley.
As correctional manager, Mullen functioned essentially as a prosecutor during prison court cases. He said he and Plecas would have been involved in thousands of cases together, during their respective tenures.
In 2013, when Plecas was asked to run for the BC Liberals, Mullen said he was asked if he would help out as an adviser on his campaign. He did so again in 2017.
“It didn’t really matter to me or him which party was in power,” he told The News. “It was all about doing the right thing.”
When Plecas became Speaker, Mullen said that “after a couple months it became pretty clear that, as the speaker, not only are you non-partisan and independent, but you need to know everything there is to know about legislative policy and points of order in the house. But also as the speaker, you’re in charge of everything that goes on in the legislature and in the grounds.
“He came to me and said, ‘Look, there is so much here, can you come on in the role of special adviser.
“My role as special adviser would be to advise on all things politics, both in the house and also in the constituency.”