NDP set to form government after Liberals toppled in confidence vote
John Horgan is poised to become B.C.'s next premier after the NDP and Greens defeated Christy Clark's Liberal government in a historic confidence vote.
Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon, who held a lengthy meeting with Clark shortly after the vote, has announced she won't be calling British Columbians back to the polls for a snap summer election.
Instead, she asked Horgan to attempt to form a minority government propped up by the three-MLA Green caucus. (Full statement below.)
"Tomorrow I'll begin putting together a government that will make British Columbia better," Horgan said following the decision, to cheers from his supporters.
Thursday's confidence vote followed one month to the day after Horgan and Green leader Andrew Weaver first agreed to join forces, and after several weeks of political maneuvering and uncertainty in the capital.
As per their agreement, all 44 NDP and Green MLAs voted together to topple Clark's government, ending 16 years of Liberal reign. There were cheers and applause as the premier exited the legislature.
Clark met with Guichon for about an hour after the confidence vote, considerably longer than such meetings usually last. Speaking with reporters outside Government House, she said she'd asked Guichon to call an election.
"I offered my resignation and asked for dissolution," she said, after congratulating Horgan.
During their meeting, she spoke about the risk of "bending the rules of democracy in order to make another government work."
Clark said she doesn't know why the lieutenant-governor made the decision she did, and she accepted the result.
As she left for the day, walking hand-in-hand with her son, she told him, "Now we can get a dog."
In the days leading up to the vote, Clark insisted the two parties' partnership would be unworkable, noting the government must provide an MLA for Speaker, which would leave the NDP and Greens tied for seats with the Liberals.
The Speaker can vote in a tie, but parliamentary convention dictates Speakers should maintain the status quo.
Some NDP supporters had held out hope that Liberal Speaker Steve Thomson would continue on in the role, but he resigned from his post less than an hour after the confidence vote.
Michael Prince, political science professor from the University of Victoria, said such a narrow minority will certainly face challenges governing, particularly if the NDP and Greens can't entice a single Liberal MLA to support their agenda.
"It gets into some procedural details and wrangling, but the test really is if there will be the spirit of cooperation that Christy Clark so eloquently argued for over the last few days," said Prince. "It's very doubtful."
Minority governments last an average of 18 months, according to experts, and those months are often less than productive.
But Mike Farnworth insisted the NDP-Green partnership can succeed, pointing to the Bernard Lord government in New Brunswick that lasted three years with a single seat majority.
"It's obviously going to be a challenge and there's a lot of work that has to be done but if we approach it right, and I'm confident we will, absolutely we can make it work using the existing rules of the legislature,” Farnworth said.
Speaking to reporters after the announcement was made by the lieutenant-governor, Green leader Andrew Weaver said the decision was a long time coming.
"I feel quite relieved. You know, on May the 29th we signed our agreement (with the NDP)… with the idea of providing stability to British Columbia," he said.
"It's taken over a month – slightly over a month – to actually finally get the confidence vote that we've been asking for for such a long time, and the lieutenant-governor made the decision that I think was one I'm very pleased to see."
He said the province's new government will have the support of the BC Greens, and that he feels it's a government that will "actually put people first and one that I think will provide a lot of good policy for the next four years."
Over the last week, the premier made a number of attempts to hold onto power, beginning with the delivery of a throne speech that offered British Columbians several tempting promises, and which lifted large portions of the NDP and Green election platforms.
The Liberals also introduced motions to ban corporate and union political donations and to give the Greens their desired party status. The NDP and Greens accused the party of delaying its downfall, and defeated both bills on first reading.
Clark said she was responding to the will of voters, but Horgan describe the premier's pivot as a calculated political maneuver.
Word that the province would not face another election so quickly after the last was likely welcome news to many voters; an Insights West poll released Thursday found just 15 per cent of British Columbians want to solve the uncertainty in Victoria by heading back to the polls.
A statement from the Office of the Lieutenant Governor: pic.twitter.com/jK6UzDnT0F— Judith Guichon (@LGJudithGuichon) June 30, 2017