September 8, 2017 1:40 pm
Updated: September 8, 2017 3:54 pm

Former BC Liberal elected as Speaker of the House

WATCH: In a shocking move, Abbotsford MLA Darryl Plecas has crossed the floor to be the next Speaker of the House for the NDP. Keith Baldrey has reaction from the Liberals ahead of today's Throne Speech.

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Abbotsford South MLA Darryl Plecas is now the Speaker of the House.

The BC Liberals have removed Plecas from their caucus after he decided to take on the role.

Interim Liberal leader Rich Coleman said Plecas had just told the party earlier this week that he would not be running for Speaker, adding that his decision is a betrayal akin to crossing the floor.

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“When you tell your colleagues that you are not going to do something, they take you at your word, you break your word, you go do it, become the speaker, you defacto already joined the NDP,” said Coleman.

“I’ll respect the chair. I don’t have to respect him.”

Despite the disappointment, Coleman said the Liberal party is strong and the NDP and Green alliance still have many challenges ahead.

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

Plecas’s acclamation ends months of speculation on how Premier John Horgan could manage the government with such a narrow minority if he had to put up one of his own members as Speaker.

Horgan tweeted his congratulations shortly after the announcement.

This move leaves the Liberals and the NDP with 41 seats each. The Green Party holds three seats.

Andrew Weaver, leader of the Green Party, said in a statement:

“Darryl is known by his colleagues in the Legislature as a person of exceptional ethics and high moral standards. He will undoubtedly serve with dignity and honour as Speaker of this House.

Darryl’s willingness to stand for Speaker is an encouraging sign that the MLAs of all parties will be able to work together in a productive, collaborative session. We have an historic opportunity to work across party lines to advance good public policy that serves the interests of British Columbians. I look forward to finally getting on with the business of the Legislature to do just that.”

Going back in time

But back in June, the MLA for Abbotsford South said the New Democrats and the BC Greens asked him three times to put his name forward to be speaker.

“Let’s be clear about this. I would never be speaker without the blessing of my colleagues in caucus,” said Plecas.

LISTEN: Darryl Plecas told Simi Sara back in June he would not be speaker

In fact, Plecas said he was elected as a BC Liberal and to prop up an NDP government would be “disrespectful” to his constituents.

“And certainly if I did that, I’d be the first to say I should be thrown out of office by my constituents.”

But being speaker does come with perks.

In addition to his $105,881 salary as MLA, Plecas will receive an additional $52,940 dollars for the job.

~With files from The Canadian Press

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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