VICTORIA — Premier Christy Clark says she ready to tell the lieutenant-governor British Columbia’s legislature can’t work if her Liberal minority government is defeated in a confidence vote on Thursday.
If Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon asks her opinion, Clark said Wednesday she will reply she hasn’t seen any evidence the house can function with the NDP and Greens holding a one-seat advantage in the 87-seat legislature.
It will then be up to Guichon to decide whether to dissolve the legislature and trigger an election or ask the New Democrats to form a minority government.
The NDP and Greens have an agreement to defeat the Liberals in a bid to put the New Democrats in power.
But a debate over who will serve as Speaker has raised questions about how long an NDP government might survive as the Liberals have not committed to allowing one of their members to serve in the position.
If a New Democrat or Green member serves in the post, the house is deadlocked with votes likely to end in 43-43 outcomes, leaving the Speaker to decide whether to break the tie.
Clark said the Liberals have tried to work with the opposition parties by adopting parts of their platforms in last week’s throne speech.
But at the first opportunity, they chose not to back her government: voting against proposals they support that would have banned political donations by unions and corporations, and given the Greens official party status in the legislature.
Clark said the message from last month’s election — which saw the Liberals win 43 seats, the NDP 41 and the Greens three — was voters want the three parties to co-operate.
“That’s why we decided the throne speech reflected priorities from all parties and all members because we want to make our legislature work,” she said.
“None of us should want to take the risk that an election could be called.”
She said if Guichon asks her opinion on the chances of the house working, she will give a frank answer.
“I’ve got to be honest. … It isn’t working,” she said.
“I haven’t seen any evidence that it could work. I know that they have the numbers to topple the government and to take power, but I haven’t seen any evidence that they have the numbers they need to govern.”
NDP Leader John Horgan set the wheels in motion by introducing the non-confidence motion in the legislature on Wednesday during the throne speech debate.
After 16 years in power, he asked why the Liberals didn’t act before on the concerns expressed by the opposition parties.
“We expected the B.C. Liberal party … to deliver a throne speech that represented the values that they have put forward in election after election after election,” he said in a draft transcript of Hansard.
“Instead, we had the bizarre phenomenon of hearing Green platform planks being put forward and New Democrat platform planks being put forward as if they were now all of a sudden the best ideas that the government could find.”
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