B.C. election could be over as NDP and Greens announce ‘difficult’ deal to form government

VICTORIA – The B.C. NDP will get a chance to govern the province, and John Horgan become its new premier, after New Democrats picked up the support of the for a new four-year government.

“In the end we had to make a difficult decision,” said Green . “A decision we felt was in the best interest of today and that decision as for the B.C. Greens to work with the B.C. NDP for a stable minority government over the four-year term.”

The two leaders made the announcement in front of the golden gates at the entrance to the legislative chamber in Victoria.

“There’s lots of work to do and we’re not done yet, but I ‘m confident with the 44 members, a majority of members prepared to support confidence motions for a New Democrat government, that we’re going to get there,” said Horgan.

“I would suggest the sooner the better for this institution.”

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward/File
THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward/FileB.C. Clark said in a statement that her Liberals intend to form a minority government. It appears they will not have the votes to hold onto power.

The Liberal government of Premier Christy Clark now lacks the votes to survive in the legislature and she will either have to resign or be defeated in the house. Horgan will eventually be sworn in B.C.’s 36th premier.

“I’m very excited about the of stable government,” he said.

The NDP support is for “supply and confidence” issues, meaning the budget and throne speech, said Weaver. Horgan said other legislation may pass or fail depending on the issue, and there may also be Green or Liberal legislation that could pass the house.

Exact details will be released Tuesday after the NDP and Green caucuses ratify the deal, the leaders said. But the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion loomed large in the talks, said Weaver, with the Greens firmly opposed to the project. The Liberals support the pipeline.

The Liberals failed to pick up a clear majority of the 87-seats in the May 9 election. The Liberals had 43 seats, the NDP 41 and the Greens three. That left Weaver holding the balance of power, with any party needing his support in order to survive.

DARRYL DYCK / CPB.C. NDP Leader John Horgan and his wife Ellie watch election results on television at a hotel after the provincial election polls closed, in Vancouver, B.C., on Tuesday May 9, 2017.

Power sharing talks have been underway since, between the Greens and the NDP, as well as the Greens and Liberals. Weaver and NDP leader John Horgan spent the weekend watching a rugby tournament in Langford. The Liberals were to hold talks with the Greens Monday morning, but Premier Christy Clark, who has not attended the negotiations in person, remained in Vancouver.

Weaver said he made his decision late Sunday night, after a bargaining session with the B.C. Liberals, but formally told the Liberal team Monday morning. He pledged “secure and stable job growth” and shot back at the Liberal criticism during the election that the Greens and NDP are the parties that will kill jobs. “Just watch,” said Weaver.

The deal will not include Weaver or his two other Green MLAs taking cabinet posts in a Horgan government.

Horgan said he had an extra spring in his step this morning with news of the deal.

Green advisor Norman Spector provided an early insight into how the Greens “recoiled” at the idea of cutting a deal with the Liberals.

A Green-NDP deal to govern would give the two parties 44 seats in the legislature and the slimmest of majorities. A Speaker appointed from the parties would be required to break tie votes in the house, and no MLAs, cabinet ministers or the premier could leave the building for key votes or else government would be at risk of being overwhelmed by a 43-seat Liberal opposition.

Horgan and Weaver have had a difficult personal relationship in the past, with both parties heavily criticizing the character of the other leader. However, Horgan was directly at the bargaining table to patch up the relationship.

“To be blunt, I think John and I saw a different side of each other in the negotiations,” said Weaver.

CHAD HIPOLITO / CPB.C. Green party leader speaks to media in the rose garden on the Legislature grounds in Victoria, B.C., on Wednesday, May 10, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito ORG XMIT: CAH309

“This is an adversarial place by its nature,” said Horgan. “And both of us want to change that.”

By convention, Clark remains premier until she resigns or chooses to call the legislature back and test the confidence of the house with a throne speech and budget – even if her opponents have lined up against her.

Earlier on Monday, Clark posted a video to her Twitter feed in which she acknowledged the uncertainty about who would ultimately form government and reiterated she saw with the other parties.

“I also know that if we can come to an agreement with other parties in the legislature for four years of stability that it’s going to be not a deal with political parties, it’s a deal with you,” she said in the video.

“Because you were the ones in the election who said you wanted us to do things differently and I want to make sure any agreement we come to reflects what you want. Because we want to make sure we do things differently in British Columbia, a new deal not for politicians, not for the legislature, but a new deal for British Columbians.”

The Greens and NDP appeared to find common on their opposition to the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion and the Site C dam project. The Greens called for free childcare, while the NDP called for $10-a-day childcare. Both parties wanted to boost education funding significantly, after the Liberals lost a Supreme Court of Canada ruling during a 10 year fight with teachers. They have both called for social improvements, such as increases to the welfare and disability rates, as well as the minimum wage.

About Rob Shaw, Postmedia News