B.C.’s 87 new and recycled MLAs will be sworn into office today and tomorrow, setting the stage for the Liberals to take power, hold it for a few days, be toppled in a confidence vote and watch as the NDP, with the backing of the B.C. Greens, form its first government in B.C. in 16 years.
Despite Christy Clark’s Liberals winning the most seats in the provincial election last month, the total wasn’t enough to stop the joint NDP-Green deal, which will give the NDP a one-seat advantage when it comes to voting strength—enough to unseat the Liberals from power.
But there’s already talk of how long the NDP-Green marriage of convenience will last.
Before John Horgan’s NDP can take power, however, there’s the issue of selecting a Speaker of the Legislature—at least until the confidence vote takes place. While the job will be an extremely short-term gig for whoever gets it, it does not appear to be an appealing prospect for any of the 43 Liberal MLAs. None have indicated a desire to seek the Speaker’s chair during the Liberals last few days in power.
If no Liberal steps up, it would fall to the NDP to put someone forward. But, with such a such a slim majority (when combined with the three Green MLAs), the NDP is hesitant to risk losing the vote of non-confidence it is expected to move following introduction of the Liberals speech from the throne.
And if there’s no Speaker, there’ll be no Legislative session. And that means heading back to the polls for another election. But that’s not likely to happen as no one wants a mid-summer vote so soon after last month’s provincial election.
So, like two sharks circling bloody bait in the water, the Liberals and the NDP are waiting for the other to move before pouncing.
No matter who ends up forming the next government—and the smart money is on the NDP—the party left in opposition will be focused on just one task: toppling it.
So much for all the talk from Horgan and Clark about learning from the results of the election that voters want them to work together. That isn’t going to happen.
With an MLA’s illness, or even just sleeping in, enough to potentially turn future votes in the Legislature, survival will be as big a job for the next government as will be governing.
It may not be as final as getting voted off the island, but when Survivor: B.C. Legislature hits prime time in the next few weeks, expect all the intrigue, back-biting, deal-making and alliances featured in the television show.
There’s a reason politics in B.C. has been compared to a blood sport. Viewers…er…voters are about to see that play out in Victoria.
Alistair Waters is the assistant editor of the Capital News.