BC Premier Christy Clark has finally introduced a throne speech to the Legislature, to test the confidence of the house and see if she can continue as BC Premier.
The speech, which outlines the BC Liberals’ intentions as government, was read by Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon, the Queen’s representative in BC.
The speech referenced the close election results, emphasizing plans that had been proposed by the BC NDP and BC Greens during the election campaign.
Speaking to the assembled legislature, Guichon said, the BC Liberal government had listened, presenting this agenda with humility and a willingness to change.
Among the plans the BC Liberal government included in the throne speech, was a promise to hold a third referendum on proportional representation.
As well, Guichon said, the BC Liberal government would ban corporate and union donations to political parties, and put a cap on personal donations.
The speech also promised further investment in childcare and the implementation of a poverty reduction strategy, with a focus on children.
Social assistance rates would also be increased, said Guichon, and basic income support would be provided for all children transitioning out of care.
Free post secondary education would also be made available for those children, said Guichon.
To help tackle the fentanyl crisis, Guichon said, the BC Liberals would also appoint a Minister for Mental Health and Drug Addiction and Recovery.
Guichon went on to say a BC Liberals government would cut MSP premiums by 50%; this was previously pledged during the election campaign.
New rent-to-own program
On transit, the BC Liberals government would match federal funding for rapid transit along Broadway and the next stage of the Mayor’s Transit Plan.
It would also repeal the requirement for a referendum to establish new transit funding, and work with Washington state to create high speed rail service from Vancouver to Seattle.
On affordability, Guichon said, a BC Liberal government would start a new rent-to-own home program, in which tenants would gain equity through their monthly rent payments.
For renters, said Guichon, a BC Liberals government would prohibit landlords from skirting rent control protections when leases end.
The results of the election require cooperation, Guichon said, and a BC Liberal government is committed to working with all parties in the legislature.
Now comes legislative debate
The legislature has now adjourned until Monday, when a period of debate – up to four days – will likely begin, before a vote is held and BC finally knows if the BC Liberals are staying.
According to convention, if the throne speech passes, Christy Clark is said to have “the confidence of the house” and can continue as Premier.
However, it is widely expected the throne speech will not be passed, since the BC Liberals do not have a majority in the legislature.
After an extremely close election back in May, the BC Liberals have 43 seats, the BC NDP 41, and the BC Greens 3.
If Clark fails to get the throne speech passed, then she will have lost the confidence of the house, and can no longer govern.
What happens next would be up to Guichon.
Either Guichon would dissolve the legislature prompting a new election, or she would ask BC NDP leader John Horgan to try to form the next BC government.
It’s worth noting that in a recent Angus Reid poll of British Columbia voters, only 29% said they would support a snap election.
BC NDP have backing of BC Greens
The day of reckoning comes more than a month after the BC provincial election, which left parliament hung.
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.
On June 12, Clark and her cabinet were sworn in by Guichon.
What if Clark fails?
Should Clark’s bid to pass a throne speech fail, 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.
After 16 years in power, the BC Liberals would be relegated to the Opposition, and Clark’s position as leader could look decidedly precarious.
More to come
- BC Election 2017: British Columbians in no mood for snap election, poll finds
- BC Greens Andrew Weaver: We will not be screwed over by BC NDP
- Is a BC Liberal leadership race in the near future?
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.