Voting reform, pipeline pushback part of NDP-Green power-sharing deal
The power-sharing agreement between the B.C. NDP and Green parties includes promises to fight the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion, get big money out of politics, and put voting reform to a referendum.
John Horgan and Andrew Weaver signed the historic accord at the legislature Tuesday afternoon to cheers and applause from their respective caucuses, paving the way for the Greens to prop up an NDP minority government.
- Highlights: A quick list of what the parties are promising as part of the deal
- Scroll down or click here to read the full agreement
The two parties combined control just 44 of the province's 87 seats, a potentially precarious position, but the leaders insisted they can maintain stability for a full four-year term.
"Our legislature will get up every day and work together cooperatively in the interests of the people who sent us here. I can't think of anything better to do with our time," Horgan said.
Their 10-page Confidence and Supply Agreement outlines numerous shared policy goals, from eliminating Medical Services Plan premiums to implementing an annual carbon tax hike of $5 per tonne beginning next year.
The parties also revealed plans to hold a referendum on proportional representation during the next municipal election in fall 2018. If successful, that would likely make minority governments the norm in B.C.
Given that, both Weaver and Horgan suggested their ability to cooperate could be crucial to selling the public on electoral reform.
“The challenge here is to demonstrate to British Columbians, as we are today, that people from different political persuasions can come together in the interest of British Columbians so people don't fear minority governments," Horgan said.
The NDP and Greens also came out strongly against the twinning of Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline, signaling their intention to "employ every tool available" to stop the $7.5-billion expansion.
The project, which would increase tanker traffic on the coast seven-fold, has already received National Energy Board approval, and Alberta Premier Rachel Notley suggested this week that it's beyond the B.C. government's power to interfere.
Weaver disagreed, pointing to the rights of the province's First Nations as one potential roadblock. The province's highest court already overturned the approval of Enbridge's Northern Gateway pipeline last year for failing to address First Nations concerns.
"There's an awful lot that can be done in British Columbia to stop the shipping of diluted bitumen in our coastal waters, and rest assured the B.C. Greens and B.C. NDP will work together on this," Weaver said.
On the hot-button issue of campaign financing, the parties promised to introduce a ban on both corporate and union donations in the first sitting of the next session of the legislature.
They also pledged to limit individual contributions and end donations from non-residents.
There were notable absences from their agreement, including the NDP's campaign promise to end bridge tolls – a policy Weaver said the Greens simply don't support.
Though the accord sets the stage for the Greens to prop up an NDP minority government in every confidence vote for four years, and to collaborate on several policies, it does not guarantee their cooperation on individual bills.
Such support will be decided "on an issue by issue basis," the deal reads.
Shortly before the accord was signed, Premier Christy Clark announced she won't be resigning from her post, and intends to recall the house and test her government with a confidence vote as early as June.
Clark said she's prepared to embrace the role of opposition leader if necessary, and has no intention of requesting another election should her party lose the vote.
Horgan and Weaver both thanked Clark for facing the house in a timely manner, with the Green leader describing her response to the NDP-Green agreement as "very gracious."
Read the full agreement below.