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Finger-pointing further threatens life of BC's minority government

Last Updated Jun 14, 2017 at 5:36 pm PDT

BC NDP Leader John Horgan (L) and BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver. (Photo via Twitter: @jjhorgan)

There are accusations the BC Liberals are delaying change in government

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — It’s looking more like BC voters may have to go back to the polls sooner rather than later.

There’s a war brewing over whether Premier Christy Clark should put forward the name of a Liberal MLA as the next Speaker of the Legislature.

Green Party leader Andrew Weaver is demanding the self-proclaimed ‘caretaker’ premier does that as soon as possible.

“The question that should be asked of the premier is, ‘Have you approached your members and told them not to be a speaker? If that is so, that would be one of the most egregious examples of undermining democracy.”

NDP leader John Horgan is also dismissing speculation their 44-member accord is at risk if the New Democrats or Greens are forced to give up a seat before the Throne Speech is delivered next Thursday.

“We’re going to have some ups and downs, but we want to get going and this distraction is part of that Liberal plan to make people think that we can’t make this work.”

The Greens and New Democrats are also challenging Clark, who has 43 seats, to make good on claims she simply wants to follow due process.

Weaver saying it’s not possible for any Green MLA’s to take the job.

“The reality is two people that have never been elected before and me as a leader of a party, it is impractical for either three of us to be speaker.”

He adds tradition dictates the ruling government puts forward a speaker.

“It’s the antics, shenanigans, delay and distraction that have gone on since the election and that, if ever there was anybody who had any question as to whether the Greens believe we made the right decision, let what has played out be an example of why we know we made the right decision because it’s time for these games and antics to stop.”

Clark hasn’t been available, but BC’s new Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Andrew Wilkinson, is promising there will be a speaker June 22nd.

He’s just not saying if that MLA will be a Liberal.

“And so the identity of the person who will come forward as the speaker is, as far as I know, is still up in the air and that will be sorted out obviously before the 22nd, so that the Throne Speech can proceed after the selection of the Speaker.”

Wilkinson was asked if it’s true Clark has ordered all Liberal MLAs to refuse the speaker position.

“I have signed one of those forms to alert the clerk that I will not be putting my name forward as a candidate to be the Speaker. Many of my colleagues have done the same thing. I can’t tell you if they all have sent them in because that’s their own decision…. Our caucus operates by consensus. We do not dictate to people what they should and should not be doing. We’ve been, I think, very successful in maintaining a very big tent in terms of the involvement of people from different parts of the political spectrum.”

Wilkinson’s also defending how long it’s taking the new minority government to form.

He’s blaming vote recounts and the fact it’s been 65 years since the last time something like this has happened.

As the public debate continues, Michael Prince –a political scientist at the University of Victoria– predicts another election could easily be forced.

“There can’t be any mistakes. There can’t be any slip-ups and we’ll have to just see again how disciplined all three parties are and of course, the role of the Speaker is absolutely central.”

Prince says it’s possible for an Opposition member to serve as Speaker, but he agrees that job is held by an MLA in the ruling government.

“It sounds to me like a bit of jittery nerves perhaps by Mr. Horgan and Mr. Weaver. The Lieutenant Governor would not have agreed to saying the House could be recalled if they were not as confident the government could actually form and operate with a speaker in place. It might be fireworks. It might be jittery nerves. It might be just playing a bit of mind games.”

If the minority government led by the Liberals is defeated as expected, a new Speaker would likely have to be a New Democrat.