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

There has been COVID-19 exposures at two elementary schools in District 42. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 24 additional COVID-19 cases

This includes three school exposures in Kelowna

City Hall in Cranbrook.
Housing study identifies shifting demographics in Cranbrook

Gaps in Cranbrook’s housing stock include shifting demographics and a mismatch of… Continue reading

File photo
Two arrested near Creston after allegedly fleeing U.S. border agents in Idaho

Cocaine and methamphetamine seized by U.S. law enforcement in remote Idaho area near Canadian border

With classrooms equipped with specialty broadcast equipment, College of the Rockies faculty members like Kevil Szol, Electrician instructor, are able to create virtual classrooms for their students. (COTR file)
College of the Rockies to continue virtual classes during winter semester

A full slate of programs are offered online, blended with face to face learning

Neighbourly Northern Flicker and friend drop by for a visit. Miriam Saville photo
Urban wildlife Part V: The East Kootenay birds of autumn

The work of local photographers printed in the pages of the East Kootenay Advertiser over the spring, summer and fall of 2020. Part V.

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. records 217 more COVID-19 cases, mask use urged

Infection spike continues, 21 senior facilities affected

Los Angeles Dodgers celebrate after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 to win the baseball World Series in Game 6 Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)
L.A. Dodgers beat Rays 3-1 to win 1st World Series title since 1988

National League champs claim crown in six games

Seven-year-old Aaliyah Rosa was found dead in an apartment in Langley in July. (Langley Advance Times files)
Child’s body cold, no pulse: Off-duty cop testifies in Langley mother’s murder trial

The seven-year-old girl’s mother faces a first-degree murder charge

People march during a climate strike in Montreal, Friday, Sept. 27, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Judge rejects 15 youths’ climate change lawsuit against Canadian government

Justice Michael Manson has granted the government’s motion to strike the plaintiffs’ claim

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

A woman walks through check in at WestJet at Pearson International airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Strong support for pre-flight COVID testing ahead of upcoming WestJet trial: YVR

Airport is partnering with UBC, which is helping choose the method of pre-flight testing

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID pandemic during a press conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau says pandemic ‘really sucks,’ and that Christmas gatherings are up in the air

The prime minister encouraged residents to continue to follow the advice of local health authorities

The Williams Lake Indian Band is stipulating no-go zones for mushroom picking in areas burned by last summer’s wildfires. 100 Mile Free Press photo
Who controls mushroom harvesting on Indigenous lands?

‘We don’t necessarily know where the mushrooms grow, how old the stands need to be, those types of things.’

Most Read