Left-leaning NDP to rule British Columbia after toppling government in confidence vote

John Horgan will be the Canadian province’s new premier, after long-delayed resolution to a knife-edge election seven weeks ago

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 June, 2017, 12:35pm
UPDATED : Friday, 30 June, 2017, 12:35pm

British Columbia’s right-leaning BC Liberal government was defeated on Thursday in a no-confidence vote, as expected, paving the way for the left-leaning New Democrats to rule the Western Canadian province for the first time in 16 years.

Such a prospect has unnerved investors in Canada’s third-most populous province, not least owners of oil and gas projects such as Kinder Morgan Inc’s C$7.4 billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, which the New Democratic Party (NDP) has vowed to halt.

But an NDP government, which has to be propped up by the third-place Green Party to achieve a slim parliamentary majority of one, is fragile and many expect it will mot survive the four-year term.

On Thursday, seven weeks after a knife-edge election, NDP and Green lawmakers used their 44 votes in the 87-member legislature to introduce a non-confidence amendment in the BC Liberal government’s Throne Speech.

After the vote, NDP leader John Horgan met the province’s nominal head, Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon, and was invited to form a new government, making him British Columbia’s next premier.

“We’ll have access to government documents tomorrow to start working on a transition,” Horgan said. “I can’t predict when that (transition) will be, but it’s going to be soon.”

Outgoing British Columbia Premier Christy Clark, who met Guichon before Horgan, was expected to resign in the meeting, although she did not address the issue with reporters later and declined to take questions.

Guichon said in a statement she “will accept” Clark’s resignation.

Green leader Andrew Weaver called the confidence vote a “historic” opportunity.

Weaver’s party and the NDP struck an agreement last month to oust the right-leaning Liberals - unaffiliated with the left-leaning Liberals in power federally - after a May 9 general election reduced Clark’s party to a minority.

The NDP and Greens, which will form the first minority government in the province in 65 years, have accused the BC Liberals of trying to cling to power after the election by stealing their election promises and introducing them as last-minute legislation to delay being voted out.

Yet those same promises could be hard to deliver under an NDP government, which needs Green cooperation and every member to be present for every vote to pass laws, said University of British Columbia political science professor Hamish Telford.

“The NDP may decide on its own accord that it needs to have a fresh election,” he said.

The BC Liberals are not related to the left-leaning Liberal Party that governs Canada.