Finance minister calls idea of a Liberal speaker in an NDP government ‘bizarre’

Finance Minister Mike de Jong called suggestions the BC Liberals should provide a speaker in an NDP government "bizarre.". Jeremy Lye

The BC Liberals have fired another salvo in the war of words over B.C.’s minority legislature and the role of the Speaker.

Finance Minister Mike de Jong told reporters Thursday the idea of a BC Liberal helping to prop up the NDP-Green alliance was “bizarre,” adding the move wouldn’t cause a constitutional crisis but was rather the product of a “close election.”

The comments came a day after NDP Leader John Horgan and Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver held a joint press conference to accuse the Liberals of dragging their heels and playing political games.

The Liberals say they will provide a Speaker for the upcoming Throne Speech and confidence vote, but no longer than that, while the NDP and Greens have argued it’s that person’s duty to stay in the job for the life of the legislature.

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“[They have] a minority government of 41 that is relying on three other MLAs to prop itself up, to give it 44 vs. an opposition of 43,” de Jong said.

“There are some practical challenges that I think Mr. Horgan and Mr. Weaver are waking up to. You have to provide a Speaker, and you have to provide a chair of the committee of the whole.”

LISTEN: Mike de Jong calls suggestion of a Liberal speaker in an NDP government “bizarre”

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De Jong rejected claims the Liberals are holding up business, saying the timeline for returning MLAs is on par with previous years.

“I anticipated someone would ask that question, so I went and I checked when parliaments have historically convened after elections. And we’ve had six elections in May, Parliament is convening earlier than it has in other instances where there was a May election,” de Jong said.

As for where Christy Clark has been in recent weeks, and what she’s been doing with the time since the election, de Jong says she’s been discharging her duties as premier.

“The premier is engaged in albeit a caretaker government, governing. And you saw her swear in a cabinet. And engaging in the role of being premier during this time, during this time of minority government.”

De Jong also suggested the NDP-Green alliance wouldn’t last long, and refused to rule out the possibility of a snap summer election.

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