Christy Clark has lost the confidence of the BC Legislature, paving the way for a BC NDP minority government – or a snap election.
Over the course of the last week, Clark’s BC Liberals had presented a throne speech and budget, but after days of debate, a motion of non-confidence was introduced by BC NDP leader John Horgan.
As expected, that motion passed 44-42 this afternoon, meaning the BC Liberals have now lost the “confidence of the house” and according to convention cannot form a government.
Speaking in the Legislature just before the vote, Clark said:
“If this marks the end of our government then I stand here in humility and with great gratitude to the people of British Columbia.”
What happens next is up to Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon, the Queen’s representative in BC, who Clark met with for more than an hour after the defeat.
Guichon can either dissolve the legislature prompting a new election, or ask BC NDP leader John Horgan to try to form the next BC government.
Emerging from her meeting with Guichon at about 7:20 pm on Thursday, Clark told assembled reporters:
“The Lieutenant-Governor and I had a very good, long conversation, as you may have guessed, given the amount of time that we were there.
“She has now retired to make her decision and I’m going to wait, I’m going to respect her time to do that and when she has made that decision and made that decision public, I will be available to all of you for comment if you’d like me to.
“I know people want to know, and with everyone else in British Columbia and across the country, I’ll be waiting too.”
It is not clear when the Lieutenant-Governor will announce her decision.
It’s worth noting that in a recent Angus Reid poll of British Columbia voters, only 29% said they would support a snap election.
Speaking on Wednesday, a day before she was toppled, Clark anticipated her defeat, but said if asked, she would tell Guichon she didn’t believe the legislature could work.
Clark said she had seen no evidence that the BC NDP and the BC Greens had the numbers needed to actually govern, and she would advise Guichon so.
Notably, if the BC NDP or BC Greens were to put forward a Speaker for the house, it would leave them tied on 43 seats with the BC Liberals.
This could lead to many tie votes on bills, with the Speaker expected to break the tie.
Faced with Clark’s advice, it is unclear what Guichon will choose to do – but she could choose to dissolve the legislature, prompting another election to settle the matter.
The day of reckoning comes more than a month after the extremely close BC provincial election, which left BC with a hung parliament.
The BC Liberals won 43 seats, the BC NDP 41, and the BC Greens 3.
In the aftermath, the BC Greens negotiated with both the BC Liberals and the BC NDP to see if they could work with a party to support a minority government.
Ultimately, BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver announced they had agreed to support a BC NDP minority government with Horgan.
Meanwhile, Clark came under pressure to step down, after the final BC Election count confirmed no party had won the election.
However, after the BC NDP and BC Greens announced their agreement, Clark came out fighting, saying she would not be resigning from her post as BC Premier.
Instead, she said, she would be recalling the legislature to test the confidence of the house, by introducing a throne speech to see if it would pass.
The speech, which lays out the BC Liberals’ plans for government, borrowed heavily from what had been in the BC NDP and BC Green campaign platforms.
The legislature then adjourned until this Monday, when a variety of bills were introduced by the BC Liberals and voted down blind by the BC NDP and BC Greens.
And then, finally, came the traditional period of debate on the throne speech, which traditionally lasts around four days.
Much of that debate was long speeches by the BC Liberals, punctuated by criticism from the BC NDP and BC Greens and attempts to get to a vote.
Meanwhile, the BC Liberals were accused of delaying democracy, while the BC NDP and BC Greens have been criticized for voting down BC Liberal bills sight unseen.
After comments on Wednesday, Clark was accused of making a last ditch attempt to scare opposition MLAs into keeping her in power, to avoid an election.
After Clark’s failure in the legislature today, her position as leader of the BC Liberals may be as precarious as previously thought.
She has said she would stay on as Opposition leader if that’s what her caucus wanted. That remains to be seen.
In the meantime, Guichon could well ask Horgan to form the next BC government, with the support of Weaver.
Horgan would then have to recall the legislature and attempt to pass his own throne speech or budget to see if he had the confidence of the house.
If that passed with the support of the BC Greens, then Horgan would be the next BC premier and the BC NDP minority government would continue.
And, after 16 years in power, the BC Liberals would be relegated to the Opposition.
Daily Hive is your home throughout the BC election and the aftermath. Find all of Daily Hive’s BC Election 2017 coverage here: Battleground BC.