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Chilliwack’s MLAs speak about Plecas’s ‘turnabout’

Former Liberal MLA Darryl Plecas is escorted from the speaker corridor to the legislative assembly after being elected speaker at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, September 8, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito -
Former Liberal MLA Darryl Plecas is escorted from the speaker corridor to the legislative assembly after being elected speaker at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, September 8, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
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Chilliwack's two MLAs were among those BC Liberal shocked last week to hear their longtime friend and colleague Darryl Plecas was elected as Speaker of the B.C. legislature.

"Of course we'll get over it and get used to the job of Opposition, but I as well as our entire caucus is hurting over Darryl's decision," Chilliwack-Kent MLA Laurie Throness told The Progress this week. "He ought not to be surprised at the strong emotions in response."

READ: Abbotsford MLA Darryl Plecas named speaker

Back in June, Plecas, who is MLA for Abbotsford South, rebuffed offers from the NDP to sit as speaker.

But after Christy Clark attempted to try to trigger a new election, Plecas spoke out against her continued leadership. Still, Plecas did say in an interview with the Abbotsford News that to stand for the job would be "dishonourable."

And while many in the party were harshly critical, particularly interim leader Rich Coleman, Plecas said this week he never lied.

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"If I'm guilty of anything, it's changing my mind," he said.

The decision to stand for speaker shocked many BC Liberals and led to the party kicking him out. Now that he is Speaker, the otherwise fragile NDP/Green partnership is made more solid because the non-partisan Speaker does not vote except to break ties.

READ: MLA Darryl Plecas kicked out of BC Liberal Party

In response to Plecas's move, Throness said the "surprisingly personal journey" of politics leading to strong friendships made Plecas's decision hard for him to take.

"To find out at 9:30 that at 10:00 he would walk away from the Party that brought him to Victoria, as well as his colleagues since 2013, and instead cement the NDP in power for the next four years, was a breathtaking turnabout," Throness said. "Especially since he said repeatedly that he would never do that."

But among all the BC Liberals, Chilliwack MLA John Martin maybe knows Plecas best as they both taught in the criminology department at the University of the Fraser Valley before entering politics.

Martin had little to say about Plecas's decision.

"Darryl and I have been friends and colleagues for 35 years and the events of past few days have hit me quite hard," he said via email. "While the make up of the legislative assembly has changed, my role and commitment has not. And that is to represent the people and interests of Chilliwack at all times and hold the GreeNDP government to account for the duration of this Parliament."

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