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B.C. Liberals question merit, cost as Speaker's Chief of Staff embarks on security roadtrip

Last Updated Jul 16, 2019 at 11:37 am PDT

(Martin MacMahon, NEWS 1130)

The B.C. Liberals are questioning the reasons behind and cost of Alan Mullen's fact-finding roadtrip on security

Speaker's chief of staff is apparently touring other North American cities to learn how security works in other cities

B.C. Liberal house leader is wondering how much Alan Mullen's cross-continent trip will cost taxpayers

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – The B.C. Liberals have plenty of questions about a cross-continent fact-finding mission involving the legislative Speaker’s chief of staff.

Alan Mullen’s trip across North America is supposed to be about learning how security works in other jurisdictions.

However, the official opposition is asking why he needs to go.

“It’s hard to understand how this tour could be appropriate,” B.C. Liberal House Leader Mary Polak says. “I guess in the first instance, I’m not aware of any particular expertise that Mr. Mullen has to be conducting a review of security of the Legislature. Nevertheless, that’s the stated reason for his trip.”

Polak adds she’s been provided no itinerary for Mullen’s trip, just a “loose list” of places he plans to visit. The Liberals have asked the Speaker for clarification, she notes.

How much this trip is going to cost is another question the official opposition is asking.

“Of course, any time anyone from the Legislature travels outside of province on the taxpayers dime, that has to be approved by the Speaker, so we’d like to know on what basis he approved this, and try to understand if there’s any usefulness to this tour at all,” Polak says.

She adds if there is a specific reason security needs to be reviewed at the Legislature, there is a protocol in place.

“…there is a management committee of MLAs in charge of operating the Legislature, and it would seem to me appropriate that they be engaged in any kind of review. The Speaker shouldn’t be taking this on on his own.”

This is just the latest action from Speaker Darryl Plecas’ office that has raised eyebrows over the last year.

Polak says she’s discussed the most recent matter with others at the Legislature, and claims the other two house leaders are “equally concerned about the goings-on of late with respect to the Speaker’s office.”

“But they’re also in a different position, where they are reliant on the Speaker staying in his position — or at least it appears they are,” Polak explains. “I don’t think they need to be.”

She points out that the Liberals, during the last session, offered up one of the party’s own members to take on the role as Speaker, in order to “resolve some of the issues that are ongoing.”

Doing so would mean the opposition would be giving up “a political position of great importance,” Polak claims, but one she says “is important enough” for the party to ensure the office is operating properly.

NEWS 1130 has reached out to the Speaker’s office for comment.