VICTORIA – British Columbia Premier Christy Clark says its likely her minority government will be defeated in a confidence motion, but until then she plans to stick to parliamentary rules and retain power.
The Liberal and New Democrat members of the legislature were sworn in separately Thursday and their emotions were starkly different: the Liberals were stoic, while the NDP members sang.
Clark along with her 42 Liberal members are not enough for a majority government and are facing an agreement between the NDP’s 41 members and the three Greens to bring down the Liberals and allow the New Democrats to govern.
B.C. hasn’t had a minority government in 65 years.
Asked why she doesn’t concede and hold an immediate confidence vote when the legislature returns on June 22, Clark said times of uncertainty demand order.
“When we are in a period like this, something we haven’t experienced since 1952, we should make sure that we are going back to the rules that have governed these institutions for centuries,” she said. “That really is what provides our democracy with stability.”
Clark added that she doesn’t know if a change in government is inevitable.
“It’s an unusual situation when the party that gets the most seats doesn’t form government, if that’s what happens.”
Whatever the outcome, Clark said she plans to remain as leader of the B.C. Liberals
“Whatever job voters give me and the house gives me in this parliament, I’m going to take it,” she told a news conference after a swearing in ceremony.
The Liberals have been in power for 16 years.
Legislature clerk Craig James told the Liberal caucus during the ceremony that journalists reported on an air of mystery and excitement at the legislature in 1952 and the same can be said about today.
Although the Liberals solemnly entered the legislature to be sworn in, Clark and Finance Minister Mike de Jong lightened the mood with a few dance steps in the chamber.
The New Democrats’ ceremony was joyous. Beaming and laughing NDP members walked into the chamber as musicians outside sang the counter-culture anthem “All You Need Is Love” by The Beatles.
NDP Leader John Horgan said he wants to get back to the legislature to test Clark’s hold on power.
“We need a government in place as quickly as possible,” he said. “I believe we’ve been delaying unduly. We want to roll up our sleeves and get to work.”
De Jong, who is also the Liberal house leader, said the legislature will elect a Speaker on June 22, but he wouldn’t say who is in line for the pivotal position in the minority government. He suggested political traditions generally mean the Speaker is a member of the current government.