B.C. is swapping one minority government for another, with the NDP taking power after a vote of non-confidence on Thursday.
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.
So what happens next?
Political scientist David Moscrop says one of the first orders of business for Horgan will be to select a speaker of the house.
He says this will be a very important decision for future votes that will take place in the legislature.
“The speaker’s job in the house is really to be a referee,” said Moscrop. “He or she [is there] to make sure the MLAs are conducting their business properly, according to the rules. Sometimes they have to discipline MLAs. And every so often, it the case of a tie, they have to vote.”
“Now the speaker is supposed to be non-partisan but in this case, since it’s such a close count in the Leg, the NDP’s going to have to put forward a speaker, who very well may have to act like a partisan in some cases and vote in favour of the government. And in some cases, that may be breaking with parliamentary convention.”
Moscrop said the speaker could choose to vote with the government on confidence matters, such as the budget or the Throne Speech but choose not to vote with them on ordinary legislation.
“Or they might say ‘I’m going to vote for them all the time, so that we can get everything done;,” said Moscrop. “But that would turn them into even more of a partisan.”
“So that’s up to the individual speaker and he or she can do that if they please. The question is, does that sort-of sully the role and make them more of a partisan.”
Once Horgan is sworn in as premier, he will then 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.
Aside from the crucial role of the speaker, whether the government will be able to operate effectively will depend on whether the BC Liberals are going to be obstructionist, according to Moscrop.
“We’ll have to wait to see because everyone’s been talking about cooperation but there’s a lot of incentives here not to cooperate,” he said.
“I think it’s going to be super nasty and not particularly productive.”
“The Liberals have no interest in cooperating and they have no reason to cooperate. And I don’t think Christy Clark has it in her, to be honest. I don’t think that’s her [modus operandi].”
When asked about the role of the Green Party in this new development, Moscrop said while the Greens have agreed to work with the NDP to a certain extent, they still disagree with the NDP on a number of policy issues.
“They’ll be pushing back too because the Greens aren’t in the government,” said Moscrop.”They’re supporting the government, but they’re still not a part of it formally in the coalition.”
“So they’ve got lots of reasons to make trouble.”
-With files from Simon Little, CKNW
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