The view from Abbotsford - The Orca
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The view from Abbotsford

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Speaker Darryl Plecas has become a provincial and even national story – but he’s also an MLA. One Abbotsford resident shares his thoughts.

“Nothing is so admirable in politics as a short memory,” said renowned American economist John Kenneth Galbraith.

Abbotsford MLA Darryl Plecas must be grateful that this virtue extends to the electorate and – to some degree – the media as well.

Some of his constituents and a handful of political pundits are heralding him as a sort of whistle-blowing hero. Just how short are the memories of these folks?

Platitudes thanking Mr. Plecas for his “courage”, “ethics’ and “integrity” spilled across the pages of various papers and online forums in the wake of his report detailing the allegations of the legislative spending scandal.

“Thanks heavens someone in politics is honest,” read one typical reaction.

Suggesting that Mr. Plecas did the right thing, in the context of having uncovered various improprieties, is not inaccurate – notwithstanding some who have questioned how he gathered that evidence.

However, this doesn’t put him on some sort of moral high ground. In fact, his inaction on such matters would have made him an accomplice to Mr. Lenz and Mr. James. Following through on an obligation to the public is the same thing every honest public servant does day in and day out.

As far as the public knows, Mr. Plecas was the only witness to some of his allegations; anything less than his pursuit of justice would have been a failure on his part. Are we really now building statues of people who simply do what they should?

While I am an Abbotsford resident, I don’t know Mr. Plecas personally, and have never met him.  I can only draw on the facts as they have been reported to date. And what has not been lost on me – perhaps an 18-month memory of events is unduly long – is how Mr. Plecas gained the Speaker’s seat he now occupies.

We know that in 2017, Mr. Plecas was elected as a BC Liberal by 52% of voters in Abbotsford-South. We know that he was overlooked for a cabinet post. We know that Mr. Plecas received a pay increase of more than $52,000 per year when he turned his back on the people who helped get him elected and accepted the job of Speaker. We know that he told the Abbotsford News that letting his name stand for speaker would be “disrespectful” and “dishonourable” – his words – and that he did it anyways, fully cognizant of the fact that it saved an NDP-Green coalition.

Mr. Plecas recently committed to resigning if the findings of the legislative spending audit doesn’t make the public throw up – a rather graphic portrayal of his own disgust with trusted public servants who purportedly failed the integrity test.

I feel that sick. I also remember feeling eerily similar in the fall of 2017 when a certain Abbotsford-South MLA turned his back on his constituents, and failed to follow through on his commitments to represent their interests in the Legislature.

I’m not sure which bout of the flu was worse.

 

Ken Baerg is the Executive Director of Canada Works, the Council of Progressive Canadian Unions, a collaboration of leading labour unions – large and small, active in all sectors of the economy who share a passion for advancing positive, partnership-based labour relations that fosters shared prosperity through partnership, innovation and choice.

 

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