Working across party lines the focus of B.C. premier's meeting
Published Tuesday, May 16, 2017 12:31PM PDT
Last Updated Tuesday, May 16, 2017 4:40PM PDT
With a razor thin lead over the B.C. NDP party, Christy Clark held a caucus meeting Tuesday to discuss the need to "work collaboratively across partisan lines."
During the public portion of the meeting, which was held at a downtown Vancouver hotel, the premier called the election a "nail biter," and said her party realizes voters want change.
She also took time to remember defeated Liberal MLAs, whom she referred to as "departed friends," including Peter Fassbender who had already left the room.
Clark said voters wanted her to see past partisan politics and listen to their wishes, and that she's determined to reflect that when the results of last week's election have been finalized.
The premier said BC Hydro Chair Brad Bennett will chair her transition team and that she will work collaboratively with other leaders going forward.
She then held a brief news conference, but took very few questions and provided fewer answers.
She said she'd spoke to NDP Leader John Horgan and Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver, but would not reveal any details.
"I'm not able to – and shouldn't, I don't think – negotiate and share any of those private discussions with the media," she told CTV Vancouver's Penny Daflos.
"But I will say they were friendly conversations, and to both of them, what I talked about was the fact that British Columbians want us all to work together. I think that was a very clear result from the election and I think that there's an appetite to do that."
She said Weaver has talked about it a lot over the last 28 days, and that the phone calls were largely just "checking in."
Asked about electoral reform, she said she knows the Greens are interested but doesn't know where that discussion will go.
Clark also dodged questions about big energy projects planned for the province, saying that it's a "unique time in British Columbia's history" and reiterated that she wouldn't speculate on details until the results are final.
The questions stemmed largely from comments made Tuesday by Rachel Notley. The Alberta premier said she respects the opinions of those opposed to the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, but "I fundamentally disagree with the view that one province or even one region can hold hostage the economy of another province, or in this case, the economy of our entire country."
"I don't know the answer to any of those questions yet… Let's wait until we get the final result of the election and then we'll have a little more clarity and be able to answer some of those questions perhaps," Clark said.
She then hugged several members of her party and walked away to the sound of their applause.
An hour later, Horgan held a news conference in Victoria to talk about his take on the election outcome.
"I believe the 170,000 ballots to be counted will confirm more or less the same outcome as we've got now, and I believe that working with the other opposition party we can come up with a resolution that will meet the interests of all British Columbians," he said Tuesday before opening the floor to questions.
"Working people want a government that's on their side. I'm hopeful that we can get to that point."
While Clark's media availability focused on moving forward and all three parties working together, Horgan said the Liberals have had 16 years to work with the NDP. "There's been no shortage of opportunities to work together on a whole range of things and they've chosen not to," he said.
Horgan said the NDP is in discussions with Weaver and his staff, but he has "no such relationship" with Clark's party.
Facing similar questions about pipelines, Horgan said his responsibility is to advocate for British Columbia, something he will continue to do. He repeated campaign rhetoric about protecting B.C.'s coastline from a seven-fold increase in tanker traffic.
"Mr. Weaver agrees with that point of view, Ms. Clark doesn't," he said.
In a statement, the Greens echoed Horgan's sentiments that voters "sent a clear message" that they want a change in how the province is governed.
"In order to protect the interests of the people of British Columbia it is essential that talks between the B.C. Greens and both of the other two parties proceed in good faith," deputy leader Sonia Furstenau said.
"We look forward to productive, respectful conversations with the other two parties in the days and weeks ahead."
The party said it will hold a news conference Wednesday at the B.C. Legislature.
The future of the BC Liberal party has been on shaky ground since last week's election results, which ended in the first minority government in the province in 60 years and put the Green Party in a strong power position.
With three seats to the NDP's 41 and Liberals 43, the Greens could hold a key role in deciding which party forms the next government.
But although Weaver has spoken with both Horgan and Clark, he has so far downplayed any suggestion of forming a coalition with either the NDP or Liberals.
"We want to ensure good public policy is put forward, but again, everything’s on the table," Weaver told CTV News on Friday.
Official recounts are being held in two ridings over May 22 to 24. One of those recounts was requested by Liberal candidate Jim Benninger, who lost his riding of Courtenay-Comox by only nine votes.
Outside the Liberal caucus meeting the defeated MLAs are saying to the ones staying "pleasure to have worked with you" and "all the best."— Jon Woodward (@ctv_jon) May 16, 2017
Christy Clark says Brad Bennett will chair transition team, & she will work collaboratively with other leaders going forward.— CTV Bhinder Sajan (@BhinderSajan) May 16, 2017
Clark says no changes have been made to budget yet; re discussions w Weaver & Horgan says talks were friendly— CTV Bhinder Sajan (@BhinderSajan) May 16, 2017
Our @PennyDaflos asks the premier about chats with Horgan and Weaver - she demurs, saying voters want the parties to "work together"— Jon Woodward (@ctv_jon) May 16, 2017