BC Election 2017: What happens when there's a hung Parliament

May 10 2017, 5:10 pm

Well, it’s the morning after the BC election night before. Maybe you voted, maybe you didn’t. But now you’ve got one hell of a political hangover. A hung parliament.

With some ridings still too close to call, a long wait for absentee ballots, and recounts inevitable, the BC Liberals currently hold 43 seats, the BC NDP hold 41, and BC Greens hold 3.

So who’s in charge?

Christy Clark and the BC Liberals. Sort of.

Stephen Smart, spokesperson for Clark, told Daily Hive that Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon had indeed spoken with Clark on Wednesday morning to ask her to remain BC Premier.

But what does that mean? Get ready for Constitution 101.

In British Columbia, under the parliamentary system, the governing party is appointed by the Lieutenant-Governor, the Queen’s representative here.

Contrary to popular belief, there is no automatic appointment to government for a party that wins the most seats in an election, whether they have a majority or not.

Sure, it is constitutional convention to hand government to the leader whose party holds the majority of seats, and therefore biggest support in Parliament.

But when it comes to the rare situation of no party winning a majority, as in this case, nothing changes until the votes are finalized or negotiations have been concluded.

Clark’s future

Here in BC, the Lt.-Gov. is Judith Guichon.

It is Guichon who dissolved Parliament on Clark’s request, as is required constitutionally to prompt an election. And it is Guichon who will either ask Clark to form the next government or accept Clark’s resignation should another party prevail, either in votes or negotiations.

Clark could also be forced to resign if after being asked to form a new government, and Parliament opens, members pass a vote of no confidence in her.

As well, it is constitutionally possible for Guichon to dismiss Clark, but, in practice, this is controversial, and it is more likely Clark would be politely asked to consider her position.

So Guichon didn’t need to tell Clark to carry on as Premier, because that is, constitutionally, what happens anyway. But it does help make sure everyone’s status is clear.

And until Clark tenders her resignation, she is still the Premier of British Columbia.