B.C. NDP, Greens strike mi­nor­ity gov­ern­ment deal

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - GEORDON OMAND VAN­COU­VER —

Bri­tish Columbia’s New Demo­crat and Green party lead­ers shook hands Mon­day in the leg­is­la­ture on a deal to pave the way for the for­ma­tion of a new mi­nor­ity gov­ern­ment, but Premier Christy Clark sig­nalled she wasn’t ready to im­me­di­ately re­lease her grip on power.

NDP Leader John Hor­gan and An­drew Weaver of the Greens said the deal be­tween the par­ties would al­low for a sta­ble mi­nor­ity gov­ern­ment for the next four years.

A Green party team has been ne­go­ti­at­ing with the NDP and the Clark’s Lib­er­als since the May 9 elec­tion didn’t pro­duce a clear win­ner.

At a news con­fer­ence out­side the gates of the leg­isla­tive cham­ber Mon­day, Weaver said the two par­ties are com­mit­ted to show­ing they can work to­gether and pro­vide cer­tainty for the prov­ince.

“In the end, we had a dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion to make,” he said. “The de­ci­sion was for the B.C. Greens to work with the B.C. NDP to pro­duce a sta­ble mi­nor­ity gov­ern­ment for over the four-year term.”

The Lib­er­als have been in power for 16 years and won the most seats in the elec­tion, but fell one short of a ma­jor­ity in the 87-seat leg­is­la­ture. They took 43 seats, com­pared with 41 for the NDP and three for the Greens.

For the first time in Cana­dian his­tory, the results of the elec­tion left the Green party hold­ing the balance of power. Hor­gan said the agree­ment rep­re­sents the will of about 60 per cent of Bri­tish Columbians who voted in the elec­tion.

“We now have, with our 41 mem­bers and the three Green mem­bers, the ma­jor­ity sup­port in the leg­is­la­ture,” said Hor­gan. “We will be mak­ing that known to the lieu­tenant-gov­er­nor in the next few days and we’ll pro­ceed from there. The premier will have some choices to make, with­out a doubt.”

Clark wasn’t ready to con­cede de­feat in a state­ment is­sued Mon­day.

“It’s vi­tally im­por­tant that Bri­tish Columbians see the spe­cific de­tails of the agree­ment an­nounced to­day by the B.C. NDP and Green party lead­ers, which could have far­reach­ing con­se­quences for our prov­ince’s fu­ture,” Clark said.

“As the in­cum­bent gov­ern­ment, and the party with the most seats in the leg­is­la­ture, we have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to care­fully con­sider our next steps.”

Clark said she would have more to say on Tues­day af­ter con­sult­ing her cau­cus, adding the Lib­eral party had “made ev­ery ef­fort to reach a gov­ern­ing agree­ment, while stand­ing firm on our core be­liefs.”

Weaver said the Green cau­cus has voted in favour of the agree­ment and the NDP is sched­uled to hold a vote Tues­day, but Hor­gan doesn’t think the deal will find any op­po­si­tion among New Democrats.

De­tails of the agree­ment won’t be re­leased un­til it is ap­proved by the New Demo­crat cau­cus.

Clark, as the in­cum­bent premier with the most seats, would nor­mally be given the first chance to form a gov­ern­ment by the lieu­tenant-gov­er­nor and it’s un­clear if the Lib­er­als would still try to get the sup­port of the leg­is­la­ture for its own agenda.

A spokesper­son for Lt.-Gov. Ju­dith Gui­chon said Clark would have the op­por­tu­nity to re­call the leg­is­la­ture and in­tro­duce a throne speech.

The Greens went into ne­go­ti­a­tions with the other two par­ties mak­ing three key de­mands: get­ting of­fi­cial party sta­tus in the leg­is­la­ture, an elec­toral sys­tem based on pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion and po­lit­i­cal fundrais­ing re­form.

The Greens and NDP have sup­ported a sys­tem of pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion that ac­counts for the num­ber of seats each party gets in the leg­is­la­ture based on their per­cent­age of the pop­u­lar vote.

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