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B.C. government to be led by NDP for the first time in 16 years

BC NDP leader John Horgan announces he has been asked form government by the Lieutenant Governor and will be the next premier of British Columbia.

For the first time in 16 years, B.C. will see a new party hold the reins of government power.

Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon has invited NDP Leader John Horgan to attempt to form a government and test the confidence of the BC Legislature.

The decision came just hours after Christy Clark’s BC Liberals were defeated in a confidence vote, in which the NDP and the Greens’ 44 MLAs stood together to outnumber Clark’s 42 members, with Speaker Steve Thomson abstaining.

Horgan emerged from a meeting with Guichon shortly after 8 p.m., to confirm that he’d been offered the job of premier-designate.

“I think this is an extraordinary opportunity for a new legislature to work together cooperatively. Her honour read a throne speech just last week that was consistent with the values and platform planks that I put forward,” said Horgan.

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READ MORE: Christy Clark resigns as B.C.’s 35th premier, having fought to the end

Horgan called the seven weeks since the election “a roller-coaster for all of us,” and said an NDP government’s first priorities will be the fentanyl crisis, softwood lumber and public education.

And while he said the lieutenant-governor had been convinced he could maintain a stable legislature, he wouldn’t comment on how the party would handle questions around the Speaker’s role.

Horgan said he will gain access to government documents on Friday, but couldn’t offer a timeline on forming government, except to say that it would happen “as soon as possible.”

LISTEN: How the fall of the Christy Clark government unfolded

Clark resigns

BC Liberal Leader Christy Clark spoke to media shortly after Horgan, and confirmed she had asked Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon for a new election — advice the lieutenant-governor rejected.

“And the reason I did that is because as we had our conversation it became very clear to me that the risk that would be posed by, what I believe the risk that would be there for changing the rules and really bending the rules of democracy in order to make another government work,” she said.

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Clark congratulated Horgan on being offered the premier-designate job, and said she hoped he and Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver would be able to manage the provinces affairs successfully.

“[John Horgan] is inheriting the best balanced books in the country, the strongest economy in the country, the best job growth in Canada, and a great fiscal situation,” she said.

“So I hope that he can find a way to make sure that we preserve that.”

WATCH: Global News learns John Horgan will be next premier

Global News learns John Horgan will be next premier
Global News learns John Horgan will be next premier

NDP government

The next step will be for Horgan to form a cabinet and have it sworn in.

Party officials say that is expected to play out over the next few weeks, with ministers anticipated to be in place by the last two weeks of July.

Following that, Horgan will have to actually test the confidence of the house.

He will likely have his first opportunity with a speech from the throne, but it could also come in the form of a statement.

READ MORE: Future of company in charge of tolling Port Mann remains uncertain following Throne Speech

The specific timing has yet to be determined.

The confidence and supply agreement between the New Democrat and Green parties stipulates that the confidence test would come within 30 days of the cabinet being sworn in.

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With a legislative session set to take place in early September, some within the party suggest that is when it will take place.

September is also when the NDP are expected to deliver a budget.

The party will only now obtain access to the province’s books.

Confidence vote

 Earlier Thursday, Christy Clark’s BC Liberals were defeated in a historic confidence vote at the B.C. legislature.

The defeat came 52 days after British Columbians went to the polls, with the 44 MLAs of the NDP-Green alliance standing together to defeat 42 Liberals, and Speaker Steve Thomson abstaining.

Clark had the final word on the floor of the house, giving the final address in defence of her throne speech and hinting at what was to come should NDP Leader John Horgan not be given a chance to form government.

“If this results in an election, then we will put forward our throne speech to the people of the province. It’s a genuine offering that respects the spirit by which we have approached these last seven weeks. It reflects voters’ judgments, learning from our successes and learning from our failures,” Clark said.

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Following the vote, NDP Leader John Horgan released a statement calling the vote “a step towards a new government that will put people first.”

Earlier on Thursday, Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver told Global News that his party is ready to work with both the NDP and the Liberals.

“We will collectively work to put good legislation forward. There will be legislation on childcare and a number of issues in common and we will move from there,” he said.

In the wake of the defeat, BC Liberal MLA Steve Thomson formally announced his resignation as Speaker of the legislature.

WATCH: Continuing coverage of BC Liberal confidence vote defeat

Wild finish

Prior to Clark’s meeting with Guichon, she had said she would not specifically advise the lieutenant-governor to dissolve the Legislature and call another election.

But, Clark said, if asked her opinion, she would say that the house is unworkable and that the NDP-Green alliance would be incapable of forming a stable government.

READ MORE: Decision day for B.C., confidence vote expected in Victoria

Constitutional scholars and others criticized those remarks, saying it’s the premier’s absolute duty to advise the lieutenant-governor and that it would be irresponsible for her not to.
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Guichon has the power to either call another election or to offer BC NDP Leader John Horgan and the opposition a chance to govern.

LISTEN: Carleton University constitutional scholar Phillipe Lagassé says it is the premier’s duty to advise the Lieutenant governor

Constitutional scholars and others have criticized her remarks, saying it’s the premier’s absolute duty to advise the lieutenant-governor and that it would be irresponsible for her not to.

Guichon has the power to either call another election or to offer BC NDP Leader John Horgan and the opposition a chance to govern.

WATCH: Touching moment as Christy Clark leaves B.C. Legislature

Touching moment as Christy Clark leaves B.C. Legislature
Touching moment as Christy Clark leaves B.C. Legislature

The government’s fall caps a wild final two weeks of maneuvering, which saw the BC Liberals introduce a throne speech with 30 new promises worth $2.3 billion, including at least a dozen pulled from the opposition’s platforms.

READ MORE: B.C. government announces unaudited $2.8B surplus on eve of confidence vote

It also saw the governing party engage in a series of procedural tactics once the legislature was in session.

They included trying to pass two bills — one that would have banned corporation and union political donations, another that would have given the Greens official party status.

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The Greens and the NDP voted them both down.

The BC Liberals also sent Speaker Steve Thomson a letter asking for clarity on his role during tiebreakers.

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