B.C. Liberals seek Speaker clarifications before Thursday's confidence vote

By The Canadian Press
June 27, 2017 - 3:16pm

VICTORIA — British Columbia’s Liberal government is being accused of stalling on its expected defeat in the legislature by seeking procedural advice from the Speaker before a confidence vote.

Liberal house leader Mike de Jong sent a four-page letter to Speaker Steve Thomson on Tuesday hoping for clarification on voting issues for the legislature’s 87 members to consider before the confidence vote, which is expected on Thursday.

He asked if the Speaker will be called to cast a deciding vote when the legislature is tied, citing examples where the Speaker doesn’t always cast a vote to break a tie but sometimes calls for the sides to debate the issue further.

He has also asked whether the Speaker would participate in committee debates, adding he believes the rules state the Speaker does not take part and never votes in the committee process.

But NDP Leader John Horgan said the letter represents a “final desperate attempt to throw British Columbians into another election.”

Green party Leader Andrew Weaver accused the Liberals and Premier Christy Clark of trying to hold onto power seven weeks after the election that left them with a minority government.

“The premier has been clear that she wants to follow procedure and test confidence of the house,” he said in a statement. “She has now had more than six weeks to do so and yet continues to delay.”

De Jong’s letter says that providing legislature members with the rules and conventions governing govern the Speaker and the functions of the job will be helpful in light of the fact no party holds a majority in the house.

“I believe it would be helpful for all members of our house to receive a definitive statement from our Speaker confirming the rules and conventions that would guide the Speaker in these scenarios that are by no means speculative, given the present alignment of the house,” he added.

The Liberals won 43 seats last month’s election, but the NDP with 41 seats and the Greens with three seats have an agreement to defeat them and attempt to form a NDP minority government.

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