For the week of Dec. 6, 2020:
When Darryl Plecas wasn’t busy fighting corruption in the Legislature, keeping decorum as B.C.’s 39th Speaker, or looking after his constituents in Abbotsford South, he was listening to advice on improving parliament and the way MLAs communicate with citizens.
One of his final acts as Speaker of the 41st Parliament was the Dec. 3 release of two reports from his groundbreaking Speaker’s Forum on the Role of Members, Ideas for Change and Actioning Proposals for Change. They are the product of roundtable meetings with groups representing indigenous people, youth, teachers, political scientists, former MLAs and media (including theBreaker.news Podcast host Bob Mackin).
Facilitator Prof. Martha Dow noted dozens of recommendations, including: term limits, regular town hall meetings, banning heckling and applause in Question Period, disclosure of voting and attendance records, empowering committees to hold inquiries, lowering the voting age to 16 and mandatory Civics 12 classes in high schools.
“These aren’t really my recommendations for reform, certainly not,” Plecas told Mackin in a feature interview on this edition of theBreaker.news Podcast. “They’re simply the recommendations of a collection of people who we think are fairly representative of British Columbians, who have some interest in seeing change, positive change.”
The Speaker’s Forum roundtables and Plecas’ term were supposed to last four years. But both were cut short when Premier John Horgan called a snap fall election in September. Plecas fulfilled a promise not to run for a third term in Abbotsford South. His Deputy Speaker Raj Chouhan, who was re-elected in Burnaby-Edmonds, is the NDP designate to take over. Meanwhile, Plecas waits for a special prosecutor to decide on charges in the RCMP’s corruption investigation of ex-Clerk Craig James and ex-Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz.
The most difficult aspect of his term as Speaker? “Experiencing the resistance to change.”
Plecas was a catalyst for a suite of new policies and procedures and checks and balances during his three years as Speaker, but it did not come easy. And now these two reports from his Speaker’s Forum, which he hopes will bring MLAs closer to the people they represent.
On this week’s edition, listen to the interview, plus Pacific Northwest and Pacific Rim headlines and commentary.
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