WATCH: Another day, another bombshell at the legislature. Today, the news emerged that the Speaker tried to hire his friend as the new sergeant at arms. Mary Griffin reports.
Party house leaders at the British Columbia legislature rejected a plan by the Speaker to appoint his special adviser to replace the sergeant-at-arms on an acting basis before legislators voted this week to suspend the official holding the job along with the clerk of the house.
House leaders for the New Democrats, Liberals and Greens said Thursday they met with Speaker Darryl Plecas on Monday about placing sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz and Clerk Craig James on administrative leave pending an investigation.
Plecas proposed naming his special adviser, Alan Mullen, as acting sergeant-at-arms but that suggestion wasn’t accepted.
“The suggestion was made. It was rejected,”said NDP house leader Mike Farnworth. “Everybody accepted it and we moved on.”
The house voted unanimously on Tuesday to place Lenz and James on leave with pay.
Liberal house leader Mary Polak released a sworn affidavit Thursday that said Plecas told the three house leaders on Monday evening that he wanted to make the appointment involving Mullen.
“Our response was ‘No,'” Polak at a news conference. “It’s not appropriate.”
Green house leader Sonia Furstenau said Polak’s affidavit is accurate.
Mullen has been the spokesman for the Speaker since Tuesday’s legislature vote on Lenz and James.
After the vote, Mullen said the RCMP has launched a criminal investigation, but neither the RCMP nor the B.C. Prosecution Service will confirm the nature of the police probe or say who they are investigating.
Mullen said Wednesday he was hired in January by Plecas to work on issues of concern, which included issues related to the legislature investigation. He said information was provided to the RCMP last August.
Mullen said he and Plecas know each other professionally and are friends after working together at federal prisons in B.C.’s Fraser Valley. Plecas is a criminologist and served as a judge on internal prison issues at Kent Institution.
Plecas declined comment before a scheduled news conference Thursday afternoon, adding: “I think you’ll find it interesting.”
Plecas was elected as a Liberal but after the May 2017 election he sat as an Independent and became Speaker as the NDP worked to form a minority government with the backing of the Green party. He was subsequently removed from the Liberal party.
Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson said there are questions about Mullen’s qualifications to lead an investigation and the public is entitled to know the truth about events of this week.
“It’s a matter of getting the facts on the table,” he said. “This is about accountability.”
Mullen could not be reached for comment.
Farnworth said he has confidence in Plecas.
Asked when he knew of Mullen’s role in the investigation at the legislature, Farnworth replied: “I can’t comment on any aspect other than there’s an investigation that’s underway. I’m not going to comment based on the advice I’ve received.”
Two special prosecutors were appointed Oct. 1 to help the RCMP in their investigation, but their appointments weren’t made public until after the legislature voted to suspend Lenz and James on Tuesday.
Story by Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press