Former judge Wally Oppal added to B.C. legislature investigation

Speaker Darryl Plecas promises reporters update, then cancels

B.C. legislature speaker Darryl Plecas is bringing in a second “special advisor” to help him navigate the investigation of senior administrators, former B.C. Supreme Court judge and attorney general Wally Oppal.

Plecas sent out his first advisor, Alan Mullen, to deliver a terse statement to reporters waiting outside his office Thursday afternoon. Plecas had earlier promised to make his first public statement on the sudden suspension of Clerk of the House Craig James and Sergeant at Arms Gary Lenz on Tuesday, but then cancelled.

James and Lenz were relieved of their keys and phones and escorted from the legislature by police while it was in session Tuesday morning. Mullen then announced that an investigation he had assisted with since he was hired by Plecas in January had been turned over to the RCMP.

No reason for the suspensions were given, either publicly or to James and Lenz, who were escorted out of the legislature by police and placed in indefinite “administrative leave” with pay.

Thursday morning, B.C. Liberal house leader Mary Polak disclosed that Plecas had called a meeting with her, NDP house leader Mike Farnworth and B.C. Green house leader Sonia Furstenau to prepare for the suspensions.

Polak said the meeting was to prepare for the announcement of two special prosecutors to assist with an RCMP investigation of unspecified allegations against James and Lenz. During the meeting, Plecas asked if Mullen could be appointed acting sergeant at arms, a suggestion immediately rejected as inappropriate by Polak and Farnworth.

RELATED: Speaker tried to appoint friend as sergeant at arms

RELATED: Former prison official Alan Mullen worked for NDP

On Thursday, the legislature approved a motion to appoint Deputy Clerk Kate Ryan-Lloyd as acting clerk of the house, a key independent officer position that manages legislative proceedings and administers the $70 million budget for the legislature and constituencies.

Deputy Sergeant at Arms Randall Ennis was appointed to fill in for Lenz, in charge of security for the legislature.

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson wouldn’t comment on whether Mullen should continue as a political advisor to Plecas, a previously unknown role, appointed without the knowledge of MLAs.

“I think all of us are concerned to find out that there had been a seven-month long investigation by someone with no legal training or policing experience, and that this was being effectively hidden from the accountable assembly, which is the legislature,” Wilkinson said.

Farnworth said Thursday he still has confidence in Plecas as speaker, an appointment Farnworth orchestrated at the outset of the minority NDP government last year that resulted in Plecas being expelled from the B.C. Liberal Party.


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

BC legislature

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

UPDATED: 24-hour closure coming to Tofino-Ucluelet highway this weekend

Hwy. 4 at Kennedy Hill will be shut down from 11 a.m. Feb. 22 to at 11 a.m. Feb. 23.

Ucluelet resident sounds alarm over ‘environmental disaster’

Central Westcoast Forest Society estimates bridge project at Hyphocus Island could cost $1M.

Senior A Basketball: Maaqtusiis senior teams take on the Island Championships

Senior girls play at Duncan Christian and senior boys at Nanaimo Christian this weekend.

VIDEO: B.C. senior recalls ‘crazy’ wartime decision to grab bear cub from den

Henry Martens – now 96 – says he was lucky to be alive after youthful decision to enter a bear’s den

Cheapest in B.C.: Penticton gas prices dip below $1 per litre

Two stores in Penticton have gas below a dollar.

Loans or gifts? Judge rules woman must pay B.C. man back $7K

B.C. judge rules that woman must pay back more than $7,000 in advanced funds to man

VIDEO: Outpouring of worldwide support for bullied Australian boy

Australian actor Hugh Jackman said ‘you are stronger than you know, mate’

‘A horror show:’ Ex-employee shares experience at problematic Chilliwack seniors’ home

Workers are paid below industry standard at all Retirement Concepts facilities

Forest industry protests northern B.C. caribou protection deal

B.C. Mining Association supports federal-Indigenous plan

Youth-led report calls on B.C. government to create plan to end youth homelessness

There are no dedicated programs for youth homelessness at federal, provincial level, report says

Trudeau: Time for blockades to end and Indigenous leaders to work with government

Prime minister says situation in Coastal GasLink pipeline dispute is ‘unacceptable and untenable’

RCMP clarifies stance on removing officers from Wet’suwet’en territory in northern B.C.

Police say will remove officers only if hereditary chiefs keep road open to pipeline workers

Most Read