Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart — pictured during her virtual swearing-in in November 202o — has been named as Assistant Deputy Speaker in the B.C. legislature. (Photo credit: Lori Pilon)

Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart — pictured during her virtual swearing-in in November 202o — has been named as Assistant Deputy Speaker in the B.C. legislature. (Photo credit: Lori Pilon)

Fraser-Nicola MLA named as BC’s new Assistant Deputy Speaker

Jackie Tegart moves from education critic to one of the Assembly’s presiding officers

Fraser-Nicola MLA Jackie Tegart has been appointed Assistant Deputy Speaker for the BC Legislature, after two years in which she served as the Official Opposition Critic for Education.

The new appointment was announced on Feb. 7, two days after the B.C. Liberal Party elected Kevin Falcon as their new leader, and was one of several changes announced by Falcon as he sets out to put his own stamp on the party.

The Assistant Deputy Speaker presides over daily sessions of the House and oversees debates and proceedings when the Deputy Speaker or the Speaker him/herself is not in the chair. While the last two positions are usually filled by members of the governing party, the Assistant Deputy Speaker — one of the Assembly’s senior presiding officers — must be an Opposition MLA.

“The position was offered by Kevin Falcon, who asked me to take this on on behalf of the Opposition, and I was very honoured to be asked, and excited about my new role,” says Tegart, who was first elected in 2013 and re-elected in 2017 and 2020.

“I’ve always been very interested in Parliamentary procedure, and spent five years as caucus chair. Many of my colleagues knew I had skills around running meetings and Robert’s Rules.”

Tegart explains that she will be working as part of a team of four, along with the Speaker, Deputy Speaker, and the Speaker of Committees. The group meets regularly to talk about how and where things are going and the upcoming schedule.

She adds that after five years as caucus chair, and a lot of work in management committees with members from other parties, she has a good rapport with many people on the government side and with the Green Party members.

“One of the keys, when you’re in a speaker position, is to be seen as non-partisan, and see that the business of the House is done in a fair and equitable way. I think this new position reflects that I’m respected by many in the House. Although we may debate quite rigorously, there is a great deal of respect, and being asked to go in this position reflects that.”

Tegart and Deputy Speaker Spencer Chandra Herbert have a schedule of how the House works, and between the two of them will spend most of their time chairing whatever the business of the House is for the day. “During the debating of bills our job is to keep the House business moving.”

One of Tegart’s goals as education critic was doing outreach to build relationships, and she feels that significant changes to education are coming.

“There will be a lot of discussion in this budget process about what the plans are for education, how it will be funded, and how that will be communicated to interested groups. I’ll be working with my replacement in education to ensure a seamless transition.”

Asked about the B.C. Liberal Party’s recent leadership contest, Tegart says it was an exciting race and a fabulous outcome.

“I think Kevin Falcon has reached out and pulled the team together, and put his stamp on who we are in the legislature. I feel a sense of optimism and excitement, and feel the energy in the air. There’s no end to the incredible ideas he has shared with us so far and will continue to share. His grasp of the work that needs to be done is exciting, and he understands the importance of building a grassroots party.

“We need a strong party with principles and a strong path forward, and that’s what we’re working on to win in 2024. Kevin knows our area and our challenges, and I can assure people in my riding that our voice will not be silenced. People are very well aware of our issues, and we will continue to move that agenda forward.”

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