Penner retires, triggers second by-election

Chilliwack-Hope MLA Barry Penner is leaving politics early next year to work in a Vancouver law firm.

Chilliwack-Hope MLA Barry Penner with his daughter Fintry.

VICTORIA – Chilliwack-Hope MLA Barry Penner is leaving politics in January to work at a Vancouver law firm, rather than serve out his term until the scheduled election in May 2013.

Penner announced in August that he wouldn’t seek re-election for a fifth term, stepping down as attorney-general to spend more time with his wife and young daughter. At that time he was expecting a fall election, but Premier Christy Clark soon announced that the vote would be delayed.

Clark said Thursday she was expecting Penner’s earlier departure. It means there may be at least two byelections at the same time, for Chilliwack-Hope and Port Moody-Coquitlam, where former cabinet minister Iain Black stepped down. That byelection must be held by March.

Clark said she isn’t worried about Penner’s departure creating an opportunity for the B.C. Conservative Party to gain a foothold, or at least split the vote enough for an NDP member to be elected in the conservative-leaning Fraser Valley constituency.

“I think in fact it’s an opportunity for us,” Clark said. “You might see more than one byelection happen at a time, and I think it’s an opportunity for renewal for our party.”

Penner has accepted a job as senior counsel at Davis LLP, an international law firm based in Vancouver. Starting in January he will be dealing with environmental law and renewable energy, a long-standing interest of his.

Penner received a letter from B.C.’s conflict of interest commissioner detailing the restrictions on his dealings with government after serving as a cabinet minister.

Penner touched on highlights of his 15-year political career, where he served as environment and aboriginal relations minister as well as attorney general. Among them were battling the Sumas Energy 2 gas-fired power plant in Washington state, and helping establish new run-of-river projects to supply electricity to aboriginal communities at the north end of Harrison Lake.

Penner poked fun at his own career in his farewell speech to the legislature.

“I won’t even mention carrying Vancouver Island marmots on my back as dedicated volunteers and our government worked to increase their population by more than 700 per cent, or burrowing owls defending their mates and biting my thumb, or our ever-trusty cat Ranger, who got too close to a candle during Earth Hour,” he said. “I think I can summarize by saying it’s been awesome.”

Just Posted

Parksville’s Arrowsmith Lodge and Cokely Manor celebrate 50 years

Week of ‘60s-themed activities starts on April 26

UPDATE: Missing kayakers located safe and sound in Welcome Bay

Pair were reported missing April 22, in vicinity of Lasqueti Island

Review: The Magic of ‘Almost, Maine’

ECHO Players production runs through May 5 at the Village Theatre in Qualicum Beach

Coombs farm auction returns April 28

CFI hosts 41st annual auction

What’s age got to do with it? B.C. couple with 45-year gap talks happy marriage

An Armstrong couple that has 45-year age gap began turning heads after being featured on show Extreme Love.

B.C. men challenge constitutionality of Canada’s secret no-fly list

Parvkar Singh Dulai says he received a “denial of boarding” notification under the no-fly program last May 17

Murder on B.C. property didn’t need to be disclosed before sale, court rules

Buyer had tried to break contract after learning a man with ties to crime had been murdered there

B.C.’s largest Vaisakhi festival target of threatening Facebook post: Surrey RCMP

Police say they are investigating the posts on Facebook, after local MLA forwarded screenshots

Pug life: B.C. town boasts waggish list of dog names

Freedom-of-information request lists most ‘pupular’ dog names registered in White Rock

VIDEO: Duncan-Nanaimo’s Funkanometry bow out of ‘World of Dance’ with ‘After Hours’ routine

Judges praised them as entertainers, and urged them to work a bit more on their dancing

VIDEO: Fish farming company launches $30-million vessel to treat salmon for sea lice in B.C. waters

Freshwater treatment an improvement but fish farms should be removed from sea, says conservationist

Singh says childhood abuse steeled him for scrutiny and stress of politics

He recounts the assaults for the first time in his book Love & Courage

Despite five extra weeks’ parental leave in Canada, dads still face stigma: survey

One reason people said dads don’t need leave is because they can just bond with their kids at weekend

Most Read