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Dr. Darryl Plecas stands outside his office at the University of the Fraser Valley where he teaches at the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice in Abbotsford, B.C. November 5, 2012. (Jeff Vinnick/The Globe and Mail)
Dr. Darryl Plecas stands outside his office at the University of the Fraser Valley where he teaches at the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice in Abbotsford, B.C. November 5, 2012. (Jeff Vinnick/The Globe and Mail)

Prominent B.C. MLAs on the outside looking in Add to ...

The math of making a cabinet means many members of the B.C. Liberal caucus will be on the outside looking in as the government forges on with a fourth term.

Yet two new MLAs who were prominent outside provincial politics before taking a first-time plunge in the May election say they are coming to grips with this reality.

On Monday, 19 cabinet members were sworn in and 14 parliamentary secretaries appointed. The Liberal government has 49 MLAs, with Ms. Clark, defeated in her Vancouver-Point Grey riding, planning to run in a by-election in Westside-Kelowna.

Prominent criminologist Darryl Plecas, now MLA for Abbotsford South, is the parliamentary secretary for crime reduction, working with the Minister of Justice and the Attorney-General.

Mr. Plecas will chair a blue-ribbon panel on reducing crime in B.C.

On Monday, he said he is fine with not being in cabinet, and looking forward to focusing on an issue that has long been a professional passion.

“At some point, everybody wants to be [in cabinet],” Mr. Plecas said. “The Premier has picked a good group of people. Me being a newcomer, I think this is a great start. This is a great place to be for the moment.”

The long-time academic at the University of the Fraser Valley, who has held a research chair sponsored by the RCMP, said he will look at ways to reduce crime without driving up the cost of administering justice – a key issue for the Liberal government, which wants to maintain a balanced budget.

“That’s the challenge. That’s what has to be done, and I don’t think it’s an insurmountable challenge. In simple terms, it’s getting the system to operate smarter,” he suggested.

“In the overall scheme of things, I’m working from the premise that there is no money, and I am still very confident that we will drive down crime. There is no doubt in my mind. I don’t think the challenge is just driving down crime. The measure of that should be for us to demonstrate that we have done that better than any other jurisdiction.”

Options, he said, include using technology “in a big way,” targeting chronic offenders, enhancing new policing technology, and finding efficiencies in the courts and correction system.

However, he said he needs to speak to Suzanne Anton, the new Justice Minister and another rookie MLA, to fine-tune the mission.

Another high-profile rookie, former Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan, will be simply the MLA for Vancouver-False Creek. Two ex-Vancouver mayors, Mike Harcourt and Gordon Campbell, have gone on to become premiers.

On Monday, Mr. Sullivan said he is gathering information on Vancouver issues, and looking forward to doing what he can to facilitate action on files ranging from the province’s community charter to ambulance sirens at night to housing projects in Vancouver.

He said he would act in a supportive way, respecting the reality he is not in cabinet and others have more senior roles. He said he is “certainly” interested in committee roles.

The one-term mayor said he was “indifferent” about being in cabinet, and that being outside the executive council would free him to focus on issues of personal interest as well as his public salons in Vancouver.

“I am quite happy, very happy either way,” Mr. Sullivan said. “I’ve indicated to the Premier I’m willing to serve in any way that she feels I could help further her agenda.“

He added: “I‘ve never needed a particular role to get things done.”

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