B.C. legislature Speaker Darryl Plecas says he regrets some of the comments he made in a speech to municipal leaders on Wednesday, but says leaked audio recordings of the speech were taken out of context and only told part of the story.
“I should have given more thought to how I said things,” Plecas told Global News on Friday.
“I’m a very candid kind of guy and that gets me in trouble. I should listen to my wife on that and say less. If I had to do it over again I would be more mindful of how I constructed the points I was trying to make.”
Plecas has been under fire for comments made Wednesday during a speech to civic politicians that ended in heckling after several controversial remarks.
The Speaker’s keynote address to the Lower Mainland Local Government Association was meant to touch on the importance of effective political leadership and restoring people’s faith in public office.
Audio obtained by Global News through Radio NL showed the speech quickly went off the rails, as Plecas painted a picture of young people losing faith in elected officials.
That, he said, was because of MLAs who are “disgracing themselves at every single turn” during the question period he presides over.
“Most people under the age of 30, according to a recent survey by the United Nations, would prefer a dictator over a democracy,” he said. “Why is that? Why is this going on?
“Come to the legislature and watch question period. It’s a no-brainer.”
The United Nations survey Plecas was citing couldn’t be found, but similar studies have found only 30 per cent of Americans born after 1980 think it’s “essential” to live in a democracy.
Plecas then cast his views outward, speaking about leaders of the Hells Angels and organized crime organizations, including the Mafia.
“Being the leader, or even a so-called successful one, is not necessarily anything to be proud of,” he said.
“Hells Angels have good leaders. Organized crime generally has good leaders. The Mafia has good leaders.”
Plecas said Friday that he was not praising organized crime leaders, but rather pointing out that more needs to be considered than just success.
“I use Hells Angels leaders, cartel leaders, Donald Trump as individuals who are successful at reaching their goals, but that doesn’t mean that we ought to consider them great leaders,” Plecas said on Friday.
“You need to always get to your goal being respectful of many different considerations. That is of course consent of the people affected by the consequences.”
The most eyebrow-raising moment during Wednesday’s speech came when the Speaker compared disingenuous consultation with Indigenous groups and sexual assault.
“It’s like First Nations people say, when people say to them [that] governments say, ‘We are consulting.’ You’re already laughing, what a bunch of rubbish!” he said.
“That’s like, if that was OK, you could say to somebody who was sexually assaulted, ‘Look, he consulted first.’ No, it’s stupid.”
Plecas said Friday that he should have explained to the crowd that his comments were not his, but came from a First Nations woman he had spoken to. He added the overall point is that you can’t have consultation by itself and there must be consent.
“I got the notion of the sexual assault as an example provided to me by an Aboriginal woman who was trying to make the point about consultation and she said to me, ‘[If] consultation was OK, then let’s say someone sexually assaulted me and then went on to say, “Well, I did consult with her first.” Would that be OK?’ Well of course it wouldn’t, it’s absurd,” Plecas said.
“People can’t be doing things without genuine consent.”
Plecas said he wished the public would have the “total picture” of what he was talking about.
The Speaker said the public does not trust politicians, but points out that not all politicians are untrustworthy.
“We need to start paying attention to this. We cannot have politicians behaving in secretive ways and expect people to trust us,” Plecas said.
—with files from Sean Boynton
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