British Columbia

Climate of uncertainty a strange backdrop for Liberal, NDP swearing-in ceremonies

Christy Clark reiterated that she doesn't expect to be B.C. premier much longer, with a confidence vote likely soon after the B.C. Legislature returns on June 22.

Premier Christy Clark likely to face a confidence vote soon after the B.C. Legislature returns on June 22

Premier Chrisy Clark greets B.C. Liberal MLAs arriving at the legislature for their swearing-in ceremony. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

Christy Clark reiterated that she doesn't expect to be B.C. premier much longer, while addressing media at today's Liberal MLA swearing-in ceremony.

"There is a very strong likelihood that the government will be defeated on a confidence motion, and I think that's a fair assumption to make," she said.

"We are in an unusual place in the province," she said. "It's an unusual situation when the party that gets the most seats does not govern."

The NDP and Greens won a combined 44 seats in last month's election and have agreed to work together to unseat the Liberals and form a minority government. The Liberals won 43 seats. 

With the legislature set to be recalled June 22, there is growing intrigue over who will be elected Speaker and whether or not it will throw the legislature into gridlock. 

Normally, the Speaker comes from the party forming government, which would have the effect of reducing the combined NDP-Green seat total to 43, tied with the Liberals.

Parliamentary convention has it that in the event of a tie vote, the Speaker would continue debate and maintain the status quo. However, in the matter of a confidence vote, the speaker could cast the tie-breaking vote. 

Liberal Government House Leader Mike de Jong cautioned it would be dangerous to go against custom and politicize the Speaker's position.

NDP leader John Horgan is introduced to his caucus in advance of the NDP swearing-in ceremony. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

"Whoever that person ends up being, there are parliamentary conventions in place for the approach the Speaker takes when called upon to cast a deciding vote," he said.

"To begin to amend the rules simply to buttress or make life easier in a precarious minority situation is fraught with problems."

The 41-member NDP caucus was sworn in this afternoon, one day after the three elected members from the B.C. Green Party.

Clark said her party would be willing to support the NDP-Greens on issues they agree on, but that major decisions on Liberal-backed Kinder Morgan and Site C need to be pushed forward.

Clark and NDP Leader John Horgan have been waging a public letter-writing battle over the massive Site C hydroelectric dam, sparked by Horgan advising BC Hydro to not sign any new contracts related to the $8.8 billion project.

And the NDP-Green alliance has said it will attempt to stop the twinning of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline, which has federal approval and is slated to begin work in September.

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