Penner quits cabinet, won’t run again

Chilliwack-Hope MLA Barry Penner has announced he is resigning as B.C. attorney general and won't run in the next B.C. election.

Chilliwack-Hope MLA Barry Penner holds his daughter Fintry

VICTORIA – Chilliwack-Hope MLA Barry Penner has resigned as attorney general and won’t run in the next B.C. election.

After telling Premier Christy Clark of his decision Thursday morning, Penner said the time he has spent with his family this summer convinced him it is time for a change after 15 years as a politician.

Speaking to reporters as he packed personal items in the attorney-general’s office at the B.C. legislature, Penner said he will miss the challenging job. What he won’t miss are the two Blackberrys with a constant stream of messages and “a phone that never stops ringing.”

His government duties caused him to postpone holidays this summer, dealing with issues such as courtroom backlogs, the Stanley Cup riot and a gangland shooting in Kelowna. His last official meeting as attorney-general was on the ongoing investigation of polygamous relationships in the Kootenay village of Bountiful.

The decision point was the B.C. Liberals’ election preparations. Penner said he received papers from the party a few weeks ago, asking him to name his campaign team for the next election. That could be called as soon as this fall.

“I believe the premier and government would be better served having someone in cabinet who will be working with them, shoulder-to-shoulder, through to and after the next election,” Penner said.

At age 45, Penner has been an MLA for the Chilliwack area since 1996. He was appointed to cabinet as environment minister in 2005, and served briefly as aboriginal relations minister before being appointed to the attorney general role in December 2010. His political experience started in 1989 when he served as a legislative intern.

Penner said he will continue to serve as MLA for Chilliwack-Hope until the next election, and doesn’t know what he will do after that. He expects to contact the Law Society of B.C. to reactivate his licence to practise law.

Penner was treated for cancer in 2007, but he said he was clear of any problems at a checkup in June and health concerns were not a factor in his decision.

The top law officer in the province is traditionally a lawyer, but non-lawyers Colin Gabelmann for the NDP and Russ Fraser for Social Credit have served in the post previously.

The remaining two lawyers in the B.C. Liberal caucus are Health Minister Mike de Jong and Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 18 COVID-19 cases, highest daily count since July

The total of COVID-19 cases in the region is now at 662

A Kelowna clinic decided to immunize their patients in a drive-thru flu clinic earlier this month. (Twila Amato - Black Press Media)
Interior Health anticipates increase in flu vaccinations this season

Some 300,000 doses of flu vaccine ready for distribution across Southern Interior

Voters in Saanich North and the Islands, here lining up outside Sidney’s Mary Winspear Centre on the first day of advanced voting, are among the provincial leaders in getting in their votes early, with some 20 per cent (10,174) of eligible voters have already cast their ballots. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
It’s Election Day in B.C.: Here’s what you need to know to vote

B.C.’s snap election has already broken records for advance voter turnout, mail-in ballots

The Local Store is currently open for online harvest orders. (Photo Contributed)
Local Store launches online harvest orders

The orders must be placed prior to Oct. 27 for pick-up or delivery on Oct 30

Top row, left to right: Tom Shypitka, BC Liberals; Wayne Stetski, BC NDP; Kerri Wall; BC Green Part
Kootenay East candidates messages

We offered each candidate in Kootenay East space to hold forth on issues important to them and to voters.

B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry gives a daily briefing on COVID-19 cases at an almost empty B.C. Legislature press theatre in Victoria, B.C., on March 25, 2020. (Don Craig/B.C. government)
B.C. sees 223 new COVID-19 cases, now 2,009 active

Two new care home outbreaks in Surrey, Burnaby

100 Mile Conservation officer Joel Kline gingerly holds an injured but very much alive bald eagle after extracting him from a motorist’s minivan. (Photo submitted)
B.C. driver thought he retrieved a dead bald eagle – until it came to life in his backseat

The driver believed the bird to be dead and not unconscious as it turned out to be

Chastity Davis-Alphonse took the time to vote on Oct. 21. B.C’s general Election Day is Saturday, Oct. 24. (Chastity Davis-Alphonse Facebook photo)
B.C. reconciliation advocate encourages Indigenous women to vote in provincial election

Through the power of voice and education Chastity Davis-Alphonse is hopeful for change

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

White Rock RCMP Staff Sgt. Kale Pauls has released a report on mental health and policing in the city. (File photos)
White Rock’s top cop wants to bill local health authority for lengthy mental-health calls

‘Suggestion’ included in nine-page review calling for ‘robust’ support for healthcare-led response

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

Green party Leader Sonia Furstenau arrives to announce her party’s election platform in New Westminster, B.C., on October 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Green party says it’s raised nearly $835,000 in 38 days

NDP Leader John Horgan is holding his final virtual campaign event

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

Most Read