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‘If I was a resident of Aldergrove, I’d be optimistic’

Outgoing MLA Darryl Plecas recounts ‘eye-opening’ terms spent at B.C. legislature
Former B.C. legislature Speaker Darryl Plecas (Black Press Media files)

According to the now former MLA of the Abbotsford South riding, Darryl Plecas, a lapse in judgment is what led him to run for office in 2013.

“I had the best academic job in the world. I had been a federal prison judge. I had a very enjoyable life,” Plecas expressed. “I ended up here because I was trying to convince someone else to run.”

Born and raised in Abbotsford, Plecas holds multiple degrees in criminology from Simon Fraser University and a doctorate from UBC.

As a member of the Liberal party, he was elected with 9,564 votes – nearly fifty per cent in that riding.

Almost immediately, Plecas told the Aldergrove Star that he noticed major differences between his old and new life.

“It’s very different that academia,” Plecas assured. “When someone is working on something, your goal is to say ‘how can I help?’ It’s a night and day difference in politics.”

He called his experience an “eye-opener,” noting that a disappointing moral compass at the legislature and a resistance to change led to a negative experience.

“The power of party politics was always surprising to me and how the party was put before everything else,” he said.

The former MLA felt it was his mission to use his time to push every single button he could and hold members of the legislature accountable.

“I was asked if I’d be the Speaker, and I initially said no, but I thought if I don’t do this with all that I know is wrong, I’m letting them get away with everything,” Plecas said.

Following much deliberation, he was acclaimed as Speaker of the House Sept. 8, 2017.

The Liberal party expelled Plecas from the party following his acceptance as speaker, an action that was deemed to be a betrayal to his former caucus colleagues.

Plecas said that action was out-spun in the media.

“I decided to leave the Liberals behind because I thought ‘I can’t behave this way. I can’t operate like this’,” he said.

The MLA sat as an independent for the remainder of his term.

It was in January of 2019 when Plecas made headlines after he went to police with his findings after going on trips in 2017 with Clerk Craig James and former sergeant-at-arms Gary Lenz.

James was charged in late December of this year as part of a special police probe prompted by Plecas’s reports.

While the fraud charge may act as a high note for the MLA’s political swan song, Plecas said he is still unsatisfied with the outcome.

“I tried to call attention to wrongdoing and it fell on deaf ears,” he explained. “It was swept under the rug at the legislature and by the media.”

Plecas felt the media unfairly attacked him and defined the past two years as a “gong show, additionally pointing his finger at former Langley MLA Mary Polak.

“She was a disgrace as an elected official,” he said.

READ MORE: Former B.C. Legislature clerk charged with fraud, breach of trust

Plecas was quick to announce that he would not seek re-election, prompting former Abbotsford mayor Bruce Banman to run with the Liberals and win Plecas’s riding during the snap election this past October. Banman was sworn in at the end of November.

“I’m hoping Bruce is going to do okay,” Plecas said. “He will work hard and I think he will give people the full attention they deserve.”

Now that he’s out of office, Plecas said he will have plenty of time to teach and write.

“One thing I’ll say about the of NDP government is that they clearly are a government receptive to hear people’s concerns,” he noted.

“Since they took office, they have been hearing out concerns about housing and homelessness and addiction and mental health,” Plecas said. “They are a government receptive to the people most in need.”

As far as Aldergrove goes, Plecas said he always thought widening the Trans-Canada Highway at 264th Street as a local issue.

“Aldergrove often gets left out,” he said, assuring he always tried to be mindful of the community that was part of his riding.

“If I was a resident of Aldergrove,” he concluded, “I’d be optimistic.”


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