Advertisement

Bombshell report won’t derail campaign to recall Darryl Plecas, say opponents

House Speaker Darryl Plecas answers questions from the opposition during a Legislative Assembly Management Committee meeting in the Douglas Fir room at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, December 6, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito.
House Speaker Darryl Plecas answers questions from the opposition during a Legislative Assembly Management Committee meeting in the Douglas Fir room at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Thursday, December 6, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

A group hoping to recall Abbotsford South MLA and Speaker of the legislature Darryl Plecas says it’s going ahead with its campaign.

That’s despite the bombshell report authored by Plecas alleging gross misspending by two senior officers of the legislature that has earned him accolades from some quarters.

LISTEN: Should Darryl Plecas be recalled?

Former BC Liberal and Langley resident Robin Roy is the organizer of the campaign and told CKNW’s the Linda Steele Show that residents of Plecas’s riding feel “betrayed” by their MLA.

“When you vote for someone, you’re expecting them to follow through what they have campaigned as. Darryl Plecas campaigned as a Liberal standing behind the Liberal Party,” he said.

READ MORE: B.C. bans union and corporate donations in recall campaigns, opposition calls it conflict of interest

“All his campaign staff all the people that voted for him thought that, and then shortly thereafter he works a backroom deal with Andrew Weaver and John Horgan to take the position of the Speaker and therefore giving the Green-NDP coalition the power to take the government.”

Story continues below advertisement

Roy said the campaign is going ahead based on that sense of betrayal, despite Plecas’s role in unearthing the alleged misfeasance at the legislature.

WATCH: Calls for ‘house cleaning’ in reaction to Plecas report by B.C. political leaders

Calls for ‘house cleaning’ in reaction to Plecas report by B.C. political leaders
Calls for ‘house cleaning’ in reaction to Plecas report by B.C. political leaders

“Let me put it this way: When you were a child or even in your teen years, did you ever joke about politicians overspending? I did. We’re going back 40 years. I knew politicians overspent, they waste money, it’s very clear,” he said.

READ MORE: ANALYSIS: BC Liberals would be wise to clean house to get rid of stink of governments’ past

“Yes, what they did is wrong, a wood splitter, a dump trailer, this alcohol — there’s numerous things in that report that are just like, oh my goodness, get real. But did the Speaker himself not agree that he himself did a trip to England, to London, to get a hat for the Speaker’s office?”

Plecas says that he went along with clerk Craig James and sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz’s travel and spending in order to collect records and first-hand evidence of their activities.

LISTEN: BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson weighs in on Plecas report

Some commentators have commended the approach, while others, like BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson, have questioned why he didn’t raise the alarm or approach B.C.’s auditor general sooner.

Story continues below advertisement

Roy will have his work cut out for him mounting a successful recall campaign.

READ MORE: Speaker’s office ‘did our homework’ on legislature investigation says special advisor Alan Mullen

B.C. is the only province in Canada with legislation that allows MLAs to be recalled, but since the implementation of the Recall and Initiative Act in 1995, no one has ever successfully recalled a member.

That’s partly due to the onerous requirements placed on recall petitions.

WATCH: Fallout from 2 top BC legislature officials accused of flagrant and improper personal expense and travel claims

Fallout from 2 top BC legislature officials accused of flagrant and improper personal expense and travel claims
Fallout from 2 top BC legislature officials accused of flagrant and improper personal expense and travel claims

Campaigners must collect signatures from 40 per cent of registered voters in the riding within a 60-day period in order to trigger a recall.

In Abbotsford South’s case, where there are about 40,000 registered voters, that means collecting in the ballpark of 16,000 signatures.

LISTEN: Premier Horgan responds to alleged abuses by government officials

For context, that’s nearly as many people as turned out to vote in total in the 2017 provincial election, when about 20,000 cast a ballot.

Nonetheless, Roy is confident he can get the job done, and says he’s been getting support from around the province.

Story continues below advertisement

“I had people from Cranbrook, Prince George, Vanderhoof and Fort St. John call me today, asking how they can contribute to our campaign to basically remove Mr. Plecas and bring this government down,” he said.