The House

Midweek podcast: B.C.'s Minority Report

On The House midweek podcast, Chris Hall looks at the national implications of British Columbia's stunning election results. As things currently stand, the province could be run by a minority government for the first time in decades. What could that mean for several key files, including energy?

It was described as a close race, and it culminated in results so close that we won't know the official outcome of the British Columbia election for days.

As of midnight PT Wednesday, Christy Clark and her B.C. Liberals had won a minority government, elected in 43 of B.C.'s 87 ridings, compared to 41 for the NDP and three for the Green Party. It takes 44 seats to form a majority in B.C.

The province hasn't seen a minority government result since 1952.

But several ridings will have recounts — including Courtenay-Comox, where the NDP lead by just nine votes — and absentee ballots have not been counted.

It means that everyone's focus will go to the final count by Elections BC, which will happen between May 22 and 24. 

"People were definitely ready to see a different direction from whatever government we're going to end up with, in terms of spending more on social programs and making people's lives a little more livable. But there weren't clearly prepared to give the NDP a majority mandate on that," Shachi Kurl from the Angus Reid Institute told The House.

She added that based on the numbers, the outcome is still very much up in the air.

"I would suggest that these candidates don't go out and get any manicures yet, because you still have some nail biting to come," Kurl said.

At this point, at least, it appears the balance of power could be in the hands of the Green Party.

Last week, B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver was pretty clear about how he would approach a minority situation: "I've always said since day one B.C. Greens will work with anyone because the grand challenges of our time require us to step across partisan boundaries and actually work together."

He added that his deal breakers would be a ban on corporate and union donations, and proportional representation, but after that Weaver said he'd be happy to negotiate to get some of his platform proposals through.

Who ends up in charge in British Columbia could have a serious impact on a number of national issues, including pipelines.

Christy Clark's Liberals are in favour of the Kinder Morgan project, while John Horgan's NDP and the B.C. Greens are not.

A non-Liberal government in Victoria could therefore be a source of concerns for Justin Trudeau's Liberals, not to mention Rachel Notley's government in Alberta.

"Absolutely," federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May told The House when asked if the results coming out of B.C. show that the Kinder Morgan project should be revisited.

"Revisited... it has to be stopped," she said.

Former Conservative cabinet minister James Moore told The House that under the circumstances, the Prime Minister should consider special outreach measures in British Columbia.

"He would do well to clearly define regional ministers, give them clear mandates for engagement, not only within their portfolios, but politically to truly try to engage," he said.

Given the uncertainty, Moore argued that kind of move is imperative.

"I think that's really essential here in the province of British Columbia."