BC Liberals raise ‘grave concerns’ over Speaker’s actions in cloning hard drives of senior legislature staff
The B.C. legislature has once again descended into a degree of chaos following the actions of Speaker Darryl Plecas.
On Wednesday, the hard drives of the acting clerk of the legislature, Kate Ryan-Lloyd, and acting sergeant-at-arms Randy Ennis were cloned on Plecas’ orders.
“What I asked for is that we have an extra level of protection when it comes to the security of data, including my own,” Plecas said.
“It is that simple.”
The decision led to a series of chaotic meetings on Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Government House Leader Mike Farnworth met privately with Premier John Horgan before Thursday’s Question Period. Farnworth also met Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson and Liberal House Leader Mary Polak on Thursday.
“It’s simply a case of my wanting to make sure that we have data secure… people did not have to do this.” Plecas said.
“I have responsibility for security. I’m making sure that we have proper security with respect to data.”
The BC Liberals have offered to put up one of their own MLAs to replace Plecas as Speaker. That would allow the NDP and Greens to continue governing without the need for the Speaker to break ties.
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The Liberals would have 41 voting members and the Greens would continue to hold the balance of power.
Horgan quickly ruled out any interest in making a change.
“Darryl Plecas is the Speaker of the legislature and he will be so until such time as he decides not to be. That’s the way the place functions,” Horgan said.
Wilkinson raised his concerns on the floor of the legislature Thursday. He says the house has been through some degree of turmoil.
“We are now aware that, in the last 24 hours, the Speaker has embarked upon new intrusions involving employees in this house. Some employees seek to insulate or protect themselves from this effort by the Speaker, while others are leaving or planning to leave,” Wilkinson said.
“Procedures leading to this instability are arbitrary. Immediate action is required to re-establish the orderly conduct of this institution, which represents five million people in British Columbia — many more than the people in this room, who are simply elected representatives.”
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The B.C. legislature has been under an intense microscope since Plecas released a report in January looking into misspending. The report accused clerk Craig James and sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz of misspending public funds.
James retired after former Supreme Court Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin reviewed the allegations and found he committed administrative misconduct.
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Lenz was found to have not committed misconduct and is hoping to return to his job.
The BC Liberals also released notes from a meeting Wednesday night attended by Polak, Plecas and others. According to Polak, Plecas told the meeting he has the authority to tell employees he needs a copy of hard drives.
Polak also claims Plecas told the room that McLachlin was missing evidence when she conducted her investigation and that it is “ridiculously incomplete.” Plecas also called the report “pathetic” and called McLachlin “stupid,” according to Polak’s notes.
When asked about his comments, Plecas said “it is absolutely ridiculous” to imply that he would say that. The Speaker also reiterated that he has the utmost respect for McLachlin.
“I described her as an eminent jurist,” Plecas said. “I had wished that she could have had a greater opportunity to follow up on some of the issues.”
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