June 19, 2017 4:51 pm

BC Liberal MLA says he turned down NDP-Green speaker offer three times

B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and B.C. Green party leader Andrew Weaver shake hands after signing an a governing agreement.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
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It’s the most important job in B.C. right now, and apparently no one wants it.

One B.C. Liberal MLA is now speaking up and saying he had to turn the job down of Speaker three times after being asked by the BC New Democrats and Greens.

LISTEN: Darryl Plecas says he turned down the Speaker’s job three times

Speaking to Mike Smyth on CKNW’s Simi Sara Show, Darryl Plecas admits sitting in the Speaker’s chair was a tempting proposition.

“Well, I think most anyone who is serving in the legislature would be interested in being Speaker if it was through proper channels under ordinary conditions. It’s a very honourable position,” he said.

Plecas, the MLA for Abbotsford South, said the offer came twice from the NDP and once from the Greens, and that he never said anything to indicate he might change his mind.

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He said he went to Premier Christy Clark after turning down the job, but said she never instructed him not to take it.

“No, she absolutely did not and to my knowledge, she hasn’t asked anyone else to not take the job,” he said.

“The premier has always said on these issues everyone is free to do what they want, the premier is certainly never telling anyone what to do.”

Earlier this month, a BC Liberal spokesperson said the entire 43-member caucus had agreed not to take the job under the NDP.

The Liberals have said as the current governing party they will provide a Speaker to get the House through the Throne Speech.

But the party says that responsibility ends if they are defeated in a confidence vote, with Finance Minister Mike de Jong calling the idea of propping up the NDP “bizarre.”

But Plecas said he doesn’t consider that a partisan move.

“No, I don’t think so at all. Because it is the government in power who makes the decision about who sits in that chair.”

The BC NDP have not yet indicated if they have a Speaker to fill the void left by a possible resignation, while the Greens have said they need all three of their MLAs on the floor.

The possibility of an NDP speaker raises significant questions, as it would leave the NDP-Green alliance tied with the BC Liberals at 43 seats apiece in the legislature.

The Speaker’s role is by convention to remain neutral, voting only to break ties and to support confidence motions, meaning an NDP Speaker in a deadlocked House could be forced to break precedent by casting partisan votes.

While the Speaker’s chair is usually filled by an MLA or MP from the governing party, opposition speakers are not without precedent.

Federal Liberal Peter Milliken most recently served as Speaker during Stephen Harper’s 2006 minority Conservative government.

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