COLUMNS: Confusion on parliamentary privilege

The NDP/Green government is secure for a while but it has many issues to deal with

By winning the Nanaimo by-election, the NDP/Green government is secure for a while but it has many issues to deal with, one of them being what some call the “Legislative scandal.”

The Opposition Leader has a plan to fix it, the Auditor General promises to get to the bottom of it, the RCMP and two Special Prosecutors are investigating it, and we assume Premier Horgan & Co. are on top of it all. The investigations might be helped by two recent court rulings that found parliamentary privilege doesn’t always protect MLAs or Legislative Assembly staff.

Mary Ellen Turpel Lafond was B.C.’s first Child and Youth Representative. During her 10 years on the job, the former Saskatchewan judge was known to criticize government policies. When her tenure was over in 2016, she says the government reneged on her pension agreement, so she launched a lawsuit. Former Attorney General Geoff Plant, one of the government ‘s lawyers on the case, argued the Legislative staff, who allegedly made, then broke the agreement, couldn’t be sued because of parliamentary privilege.

BC Supreme Court Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson didn’t buy it. He ruled the legislature’s internal proceedings would not be compromised by Turpel-Lafond’s lawsuit,and he allowed the case to proceed.

“The parliamentary privilege asserted in this case is cast too broadly,” he concluded.

The second case involves MLA Rich Coleman who hoped parliamentary privilege would allow him to avoid testifying in a lawsuit that dates back to his stint as Forest Minister. The court rejected the government lawyer’s arguments of parliamentary privilege. Mr. Coleman has been subpoenaed and may have to appear in court as a witness during the trial. There seems to be some confusion over what is parliamentary privilege and what isn’t.


One thing you can count on is that you never can count on Cariboo weather.

Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune. She is a former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian and book author.

Just Posted

Guru Nanak Sikh Temple hosting week-long Vaisakhi celebration

The raising of the flag will take place Saturday, April 27

Station House and CN Rail offer mirror image of the past

Williams Lake’s oldest building 100 years young this year

EDITORIAL: Easter eggstravaganza in lakecity this weekend

There are two family events taking place in the lakecity this weekend to celebrate Easter.

Midget Timberwolves celebrate winning season with awards banquet

The following are this year’s award presentations for the Timberwolves:

Historic building in Alexis Creek destroyed by fire overnight

“If it hadn’t been a heavy rain last night we could have lost many houses in the area”

Parliament Hill 4-20 organizers predict record crowd after legalization

A celebration? Yes, but organizers say concerns remain about the government’s decisions on legalization rollout

$6K raised in one day’s time for family of woman gunned down in Penticton

GoFundMe launched for family of Darlene Knippelberg, to pay for funeral costs and other expenses

Seven tips to travel safely this Easter long weekend

An average of three people are killed, and hundreds more injured, each Easter long weekend in B.C.

Parents say Austrian climber missing in Banff National Park ‘lived his dream’

David Lama, Hansjorg Auer and American climber Jess Roskelley have been missing since Wednesday

Six months after legalization, high prices and supply issues boost illicit pot market

It has been six months since Canada became the first industrialized country to legalize recreational cannabis

Seattle’s 4-20 ‘protestival’ enjoys tolerance, some support – and B.C. could do the same

Seattle’s Hempfest a large-scale occasions with vendors, prominent musical acts and thousands of attendees

B.C. mountain biker sent home from hospital twice, despite broken vertebrae

Released in Maple Ridge to go home with three fractured vertebrae

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, multiple people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

B.C. RCMP receive application for Police Cat Services

RCMP announced the launch of the Police Cat Services unit as an April fools joke

Most Read