KAMLOOPS — The election of B.C. Liberal MLA Darryl Plecas as Speaker of the Legislature Friday was interesting on so many fronts. First of all, it certainly got around the NDP/Green coalition problem of how to govern if one of their members had to sit as Speaker. It certainly was a surprise to many after Plecas, said many times previously he didn’t think it would be appropriate and in fact would be disrespectful to his constituents if a Liberal was Speaker in an NDP government. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver stated that Plecas was known for his ethics and high moral standards. Interim Liberal Leader Rich Coleman may have had doubts after he said Plecas told him several times he wouldn’t run as Speaker of the House. The Liberals promptly kicked Plecas out of the caucus, and while they didn’t oppose Plecas in the vote for Speaker, they didn’t applaud him and stayed silent while Plecas was installed.
When you look at things though, it is not totally surprising that Plecas would be a bit of a rebel. Why he made this decision is not immediately clear, but Plecas admitted earlier in the summer that he had told the Party in Penticton he would not stay as a party member if Christy Clark stayed on as leader. Plecas did not like what he felt was a top-down, small-circle style of leadership. He told a newspaper reporter last month he wanted to see change, and felt Clark had no intention of resigning before he made his declaration. He wanted more use of surpluses to address social concerns. Plecas was never appointed to cabinet, though he was a seen as a shining light prior to his election in 2013. Whether he is now a shooting star instead of a shining light remains to be seen. Plecas said he felt political motivation should be secondary to doing the right thing.
So did Plecas do the right thing by accepting the role as Speaker? I don’t know him personally, but if his ethics and integrity are as Weaver says, then he should be a good Speaker no matter what party he represents. Time will tell on that score.
If the move gives the NDP/Green coalition a chance for stable government, I’m not sure that’s all bad, even if you’re not an NDP supporter. I’m not in favour of some of the things the NDP is proposing, but I could have said that about the Liberals too. Being right in the middle of the spectrum is difficult, because you see good things on the right and left of the line.
I guess we’re pretty sure Plecas will not play a role in the upcoming Liberal leadership campaign. Whether he has any future at all in the party down the road is doubtful, but stranger things have happened. And in B.C., anything is possible.