VICTORIA – Political observers were surprised Friday when Opposition Liberal member Darryl Plecas accepted the role of Speaker, despite earlier reassurances he’d given that he would not consider the position. The Speaker traditionally comes from within government ranks, but this move gives NDP Premier John Horgan breathing room for his minority government. Here are some facts about the new Speaker:— Plecas was first elected to the B.C. legislature in 2013 as a member of the Liberal party to represent the riding of Abbotsford South. He won handily against longtime Liberal politician John van Dongen, who left the party earlier in the year to join the provincial Conservatives before running as an Independent. Plecas won re-election in 2017.— While in office, Plecas served as parliamentary secretary for crime reduction and later for seniors health.— Plecas spent 34 years as a criminology professor at the University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford, where he held the position of RCMP research chair and director for the Centre for Public Safety and Criminal Justice Research.— He repeatedly turned down offers from the NDP to take on the role of Speaker in the wake of the spring election, saying in one media interview it would be “disrespectful” and “dishonourable” to accept the position. “I would be hurting the Liberal party, in other words hurting the wishes of my constituents, and there’s no way that’s going to happen,” he said in June.— Plecas’s website says he is the grandson of Abbotsford pioneers and has lived in the area with his wife and two sons for the past 37 years.— He is the recipient of various accolades, including the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia Award for Public Safety, an award of excellence from the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse, a teaching excellence award from the University of the Fraser Valley, the Queen’s Jubilee Medal and the Order of Abbotsford.