British Columbia

Christy Clark to stay on as B.C. premier — for now

Christy Clark has announced that she intends to try to stay on as British Columbia's premier, despite the province's NDP and Green Party leaders making a pact to give the NDP the support of a majority of MLAs in the legislature.

Under a transfer of power, Liberal leader says she would stay on as leader of Opposition

B.C. Premier Christy Clark addressed the media on Tuesday. (Canadian Press)

Christy Clark has announced she intends to try to stay on as British Columbia's premier, despite the province's NDP and Green Party leaders making a pact that would give the New Democrats the support of a majority of the MLAs in the legislature.

But she also admitted she was likely to lose a confidence vote — and if so, would resign as premier. 

"Our province is at a really historic moment. This is a moment that comes with responsibilities," Clark said.

"We have reviewed the constitutional advice and the historic precedents ... and we will live up to those responsibilities we have. We have a duty to meet the House and to test its confidence ... and I intend to do that in very short order."

Under the power-sharing agreement reached yesterday, that is likely to result in the Liberals losing a confidence vote.

If she loses that vote, Clark said she would be happy to serve as leader of the opposition. 

"I am happy to take on ... should the government fail the test of confidence in the House, as seems likely, I would be given the role of leader of opposition, and I would be ready and willing to take that job on."

However, Clark said she didn't want to speculate as to what Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon would ask NDP Leader John Horgan to do.

"That's up to the Lieutenant-Governor," she said. "The Lieutenant-Governor's decision would be, should my government not meet the test of confidence in the House ... she would ask, I think, the NDP, as the party that has the second-largest number of seats, whether they can govern.

"But she will make that decision."

Clark's announcement came 30 minutes before the NDP and Green Party were to announce the details of their pact.

Why not resign?

Despite opting to stay the course, Clark said several times it was likely she would lose a confidence vote in the House. 

She said it was her duty under constitutional convention to face a vote, rather than resign ahead of it. 

"If there is going to be a transfer of power in this province, and it certainly seems like it will be, it shouldn't happen behind closed doors. It should happen in public ... it should happen in the people's House, with 87 members elected by British Columbians making that decision," she said.

"That's my duty, as the leader of the incumbent government, as the premier, as the leader of the party that got the most seats in the election. My job, according to constitutional convention, is go to the Lieutenant-Governor [and] ask for an opportunity to test the confidence of the House."

But David Moscrop, a political scientist with Simon Fraser University, said that isn't necessarily the case.

"Christy Clark didn't have to meet the House. She could have resigned," he said.

"She knows she's going to lose the vote, so this could be a play to try and make the NDP and Greens wear this in the next election after she's tried to 'constructively' set up a government."

For their part, both Weaver and Horgan said they respected Clark's decision when they made their announcement of their parties formally ratifying a pact.

"I believe the public wants changes as quickly as possible. I'm hopeful that if Ms. Clark wants to follow through with a [vote], she'll do it in a timely manner, and that would be my only request."

There is no date set yet for the legislature to convene, though Clark said she would like a sitting in the early part of June.  

"We're anxious to get going," said Horgan. "We're anxious to start that transition." 

B.C. Premier Christy Clark leaves after a news conference in Vancouver, B.C., on Tuesday May 30, 2017. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)