What happens if Christy Clark loses the by-election?

Dec 19 2017, 3:48 pm

Christy Clark lost her seat in the legislature to BC NDP contender David Eby, who gained 785 more votes than she did in the Vancouver-Point Grey riding. Accordingly, how is it possible for her to be Premier when she did not win the confidence of the people in her riding?

Traditionally, an elected Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) of the winning political party will offer to resign, and the party leader will run in a by-election in that riding. As such, MLA Ben Stewart of Westside-Kelowna has resigned, and a by-election will be held on July 10, 2013 in which Clark will run for the seat. Westside-Kelowna is considered a safe BC Liberal riding and it is likely that Clark will win the by-election.

However, what would happen if she lost? The Constitution Act says:

(1) The appointment to public office under the government of British Columbia, whether vacant or created and whether salaried or not, is vested in the Lieutenant Governor, with the advice of the Executive Council, with the exception of the appointment
(a) of the officials who are also appointed members of the Executive Council, which appointments are vested in the Lieutenant Governor alone, or
(b) for which other provision is expressly made by an Act.

(2) All officers appointed by the Lieutenant Governor, whether by commission or otherwise, remain in office during pleasure only.

What this means is that even if Clark is not elected to a seat in the legislature, the Lieutenant Governor can legally appoint her to the Executive Council. This will be according to a convention, an unwritten custom based on precedent, that states that the Lieutenant Governor will appoint the individual who is the leader of the political party with the most seats in the legislature to be the Premier, and to the Executive Council.

Basically, Clark can still be premier without a seat. If it becomes necessary to follow the convention outlined above, it would certainly be met with frustration and many British Columbians would question the validity of this arrangement. To some, it may not seem justified that a politician who cannot win a seat to represent a riding should represent the entire province as Premier.


Written and researched by Jenna Hussein, a Political Contributor at Vancity Buzz. Follow Jenna on Twitter at @jennahussein.

Image: The Province

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