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

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

This woman is one of two people the Agassiz RCMP are asking for assistance in identifying after a string of alleged thefts in Popkum. (Agassiz RCMP)
Agassiz RCMP ask for help to identify suspects in Popkum thefts

Images of the two suspects were captured on surveillance footage between Jan. 10 and 16

Only students who are attending in-person classes will be asked to take the Foundation Skills Assessment this year in the Fraser Cascade School District. (Unsplash)
Foundation Skills Assessment only for in-person learners: SD78

The provincial assessment will take place between Feb. 15 and March 12 for grades 4 and 7

Abbotsford’s Tradex has been transformed into a volleyball and basketball facility with Open Court. (Instagram photo)
Abbotsford’s Tradex transforms into sports facility

Open Court program hosting volleyball and basketball teams for practices and possibly games

Map of COVID-19 cases for Jan. 10 to 16 by local health area. (BCCDC)
Agassiz, Harrison COVID-19 cases heading back towards weekly normal

The area saw 10 new cases between Jan. 10 and 16, after a one week high of 19

Businesses continue to struggle under COVID-19 restrictions as the pandemic reaches the one-year mark. (B.C. government)
Another 564 COVID-19 cases, mass vaccine plan coming Friday

15 more deaths, community cluster declared in Williams Lake

A specialized RCMP team is investigating a suspicious trailer, which might have connections to the illicit drug trade, found abandoned outside a Cache Creek motel. (Photo credit: <em>Journal</em> files)
Police probe U-Haul trailer linked to illicit drugs left outside Cache Creek motel

Hazardous materials found inside believed to be consistent with the production of illicit drugs

Premier John Horgan leaves the podium following his first press conference of the year as he comments on various questions from the media in the Press Gallery at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, January 13, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
Interprovincial travel restrictions a no-go, Horgan says after reviewing legal options

The B.C. NDP government sought legal advice as concerns of travel continue

Gem Lake Top, at Big White Ski Resort, seen at Jan. 8. (Big White Ski Resort)
Big White cancels $7.3M in lift tickets, accommodations due to COVID-19 orders

Since November, the ski resort has been forced to make several changes

Darlene Curylo scratched a $3M ticket, BCLC’s largest ever scratch and win prize. (BCLC)
Kelowna woman in shock after winning BCLC’s largest-ever instant-ticket prize

Darlene Curylo couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the amount of money she’d won from a scratch ticket

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
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

While each person has different reasons for becoming homeless, a UBCO study shows they learn through their interactions with different services to perform ‘as homeless’ based on the expectations of service providers. (Contributed)
Kelowna homeless forced to ‘perform’ for resources, says UBCO study

One participant in the study said ‘It is about looking homeless, but not too homeless’

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette takes the royal salute from the Guard of Honour as she makes her way deliver the the throne speech, Wednesday, September 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns, apologizes for ‘tensions’ at Rideau Hall

Payette, who is the Queen’s representative in Canada, has been the governor general since 2017

Most Read