This is why they call it 'La La Land'

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Speaker Darryl Plecas survives a day of chaos in the legislature

VICTORIA — Abbotsford MLA Darryl Plecas survived a day of chaotic debate over his future as speaker of the legislature Thursday, retaining his job despite allegations he’s bullying staff, seizing computer data he’s not entitled to and personally disparaging the “stupid” investigation conducted by former chief justice Beverley McLachlin.

The Opposition Liberals attempted to replace Plecas by offering Premier John Horgan one of their MLAs as Speaker — a move that would have given the minority NDP government an even stronger grip on power in the house.

“We’ve offered up a B.C. Liberal member to act as a speaker on a temporary basis so it does not disturb the minority government,” said Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson.

“We respect the will of the voters and the structure of our parliament and the majority government should carry on for the meantime.

But we have to clear the air.”

The overture was immediately rejected by Premier John Horgan — though he stopped short of actually expressing confidence in Plecas.

“Darryl Plecas is the Speaker of the legislature and he will be so until such time as he decides not to be,” said Horgan. “That’s the way the place functions.”

The house adjourned Thursday afternoon for the final day of the spring session, with Plecas still seated on the legislative throne. MLAs aren’t scheduled to reconvene until October.

However, before MLAs left, every Liberal MLA stood in the house to raise a personal point of privilege, disassociating themselves and accusing Plecas to his face of “contempt of this house.”

“There’s a pallor hanging over this house,” said Liberal MLA Dan Ashton. “This will continue to haunt us.”

Plecas tried to cut off the insubordination, at which point many Liberals walked out of the chamber in protest.

“The Speaker has just cut off individuals in the legislature from standing to make a point of personal privilege … and he did it because he thought they were going to say things that called into question his investigation,” said Wilkinson.

It was an extraordinary 24 hours of political drama at the capital, which began Wednesday evening with Plecas hiring an outside company to copy the hard drives of the legislature’s two senior most officials — acting clerk Kate Ryan-Lloyd and acting sergeant-at-arms Randy Ennis.

Ryan-Lloyd left Plecas’s office in tears Wednesday, and was then part of a meeting involving government house leader Mike Farnworth and top officials from the premier’s office.

Ennis, meanwhile, announced he was retiring.

Both positions are officers of the legislature and report to MLAs in the house. The Speaker is not their employer, though he has overall responsibility for the legislative building.

“It is simply the case of saying we need to make sure that we have data secured,” Plecas told reporters. “We have ongoing investigations. We do not want an instance where we have data not available to investigators. It’s that simple.”

He said the backups were “voluntary” and called Liberal criticism “ridiculous.”

The Liberals disputed that and released a detailed 16-page written account of a three-hour meeting Plecas held with Liberal house leader Mary Polak, Green house leader Sonia Furstenau and NDP MLA Gary Begg on Wednesday.

Polak told reporters Plecas displayed “bullying” behaviour, as he kept hammering the desk with his hands and shouting.

“He said, ‘I can walk into offices and request hard drives all over the legislature,’ I have the authority and I will scream it from the rafters,’” recalled Polak.

Plecas called a recent investigation into legislature misspending conducted by McLachlin “pathetic,” according to Polak.

Plecas promised to conduct his own probe under B.C.’s police act, and called the armed sergeant-at-arms legislative security force “corrupt,” according to Polak’s notes.

He also called McLachlin “stupid” for believing sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz in his explanation of misspending allegations Plecas had levelled against him. McLachlin cleared Lenz of wrongdoing in her report this month, and Lenz, who is suspended with pay, has asked for his job back.

“I know how to make sure he doesn’t get his job back,” Polak’s notes quoted Plecas as saying. He added later: “I’m not letting them get away with this.”

Plecas said legal advice given to MLAs by labour lawyer Marcia McNeil (who helped sort out the government health firings scandal) was “a bunch of garbage,” according to Polak.

The Liberals said Thursday they no longer had confidence in the security of their legislative offices or computers. A staffer was so worried Plecas might try to access their offices, he slept in the Opposition leader’s office Wednesday night. The Liberals held a caucus meeting at a nearby hotel Thursday while opposition offices were swept for recording devices.

The Greens largely sidestepped the issue. Furstenau would neither confirm nor deny Polak’s notes were accurate. She said it was a private meeting.

Furstenau said there is lots of “rumour and innuendo” in the building, and she wanted to focus on getting the proper policies in place to prevent situations like this from developing again.

Laurie Windover, a former RCMP officer and director at e-Forensic Services Inc. ― which provides services such as litigation support, “e-discovery collection” and forensic analysis of preserved data ― said his firm signs non-disclosure agreements with clients and, when asked if he was working at the legislature, said he “cannot confirm or deny any of our clients.”

The firm, which has offices in Vancouver and Calgary, lists some of its successful cases on its website. Among cases for government, it helped an enforcement agency by installing software on a computer to covertly monitor a user; it helped a school board image 22 computers after-hours and analyze them for inappropriate use; and it prepared a laptop to capture data from a suspect and covertly transmit it to an agency.

Speaker Darryl Plecas in the halls of the B.C. Legislature building on May 30, 2019. Photo: Courtesy of CTV Vancouver PNG Plecas, meanwhile, denied he said the things attributed to him in the Liberal notes.

“That is absolutely ridiculous,” he told reporters.

“You’ve heard what I said. I described her as an eminent jurist. I said her terms of reference were too narrow, that didn’t include everything that needed to be considered, it’s that simple.

“I had wished it could have been a broader terms of reference. I had wished she’d had a greater opportunity to follow up on some of the issues we said were important. I wish she had considered the witnesses we had put forward for consideration. That didn’t happen.
“Is there more to do? Absolutely. You know there is other investigations going on.”

The RCMP continue to investigate former clerk Craig James and suspended sergeant-at-arms Lenz. James was found by McLachlin to have committed four counts of employee misconduct over more than $250,000 in retirement benefits he tried to award himself, as well as thousands of dollars on suits, luggage and a legislature wood splitter he used at home. In response, James retired.

Horgan said the public should still have confidence the legislature is functioning.

But Wilkinson said the situation is untenable. He also admitted there does not appear to be a legal mechanism to remove Plecas from office. And it’s apparent the three parties can’t cooperate for a unanimous — though largely symbolic — motion of non-confidence in the house.

“We cannot have a legislature where senior women are leaving the speaker’s office in tears, where hard drives are being seized in the dead of night,” said Wilkinson. “We need to have the confidence of the public so we can get on with the affairs of serving British Columbians.”
Wow! That is F---ed up
Quote: Originally Posted by Twin_Moose View Post

Wow! That is F---ed up

Apparently this coalition from hell that we have for a government likes to open and close legislative sessions with a bang, TM.
I sure am glad the Liberals booted Plecas from the party.
As BC Housing Starts Blow Past Forecasts, NDP’s Critics Fall Silent

Not long ago BC Libs and friends warned of ‘plummeting’ into ‘economic winter.’ Now, crickets.

Another day, another discussion of housing by B.C.’s legislators. Except this one, on June 10, was measurably different. B.C. Minister of Finance and Deputy Premier Carole James unveiled to the legislative budget committee some show-stopping statistics about housing starts in the province.
Namely, that residential-home construction “has significantly increased over the past three years.” In fact, given April’s statistics, the province was on track to see 51,093 housing starts in 2019. “Which,” said James, “is a very strong number.”
That last sentence may be the understatement of the year.
If B.C. does surpass 51,000 housing starts this year that not only would be a “very strong number,” it would be astonishing and extraordinary.

Yet, James’ utterance received no publicity. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

Contrast the deafening silence that greeted James’ housing-start revelation to the massive eruption this spring when her 2019/20 Budget and Fiscal Plan estimated that housing starts in the current calendar year would come in at 34,015.
Since 2001, the start of the BC Liberal Party’s 16-year reign in government, annual housing starts in B.C. averaged 30,680, so the finance ministry’s projection for 2019 was more than 3,300 greater than the recent historic average.
And for 2020 and 2021, James’ budget expected to see housing starts of 31,846 and 30,517 — again, slightly above and close to the 18-year average.

Too bad Ontario didn't have a Speaker of the House like that when the gas plant scandal was going down.
Good news for Richmond farmer in court battle over strawberry sign

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