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

Former Riders coach reflects

Mohr looking for new opportunities after contract ends

Athletes ready for world stage

Three Fernie athletes to compete in the world’s biggest junior freeride competition.

Hydro prices to surge

Elk Valley businesses brace for 3 per cent Hydro rate increase.

Elk Valley rallies for car fire victim

Aussie loses everything in car fire

Fernie operator wins tourism award

Island Lake Lodge recognised for “inclusive, team-oriented culture” at 2018 Tourism Industry Awards.

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Free breast cancer screening

Early detection saving lives

Sparwood skaters impress

Club farewells coach

Army cadets test survival skills

Cadets endure -18C conditions

Exhibition builds compassion

Opioid use in focus

Medicinal cannabis patient shares story

Fernie mom spreads compassion

Epic deal for FAR

RCR signs new partnership

Search continues for 10-year-old Montreal boy missing since Monday

Montreal police said they are exploring every possibility in search for Ariel Jeffrey Kouakou

Airline passenger-rights bill claws back protections for travellers: Advocate

Bill C-49 would double tarmac delays, scrap compensation for flights affected by mechanical failures

Most Read