Greens set up for power beyond king-making

With ability to support or oppose legislation, Greens maintain the blance of power.

It was no surprise the B.C. Green Party was willing to support the NDP forming a new minority government.

What’s a little more interesting in the deal between Green leader Andrew Weaver and NDP leader John Horgan is the support is only to keep the NDP in power.

That means the Greens are free to support, or oppose, any legislation a Horgan-led government introduces, as well as any bills proposed by a Christy Clark-led Opposition Liberal Party.

Not only did the results of election night—where the Liberals won 43 seats, the NDP 41 and the Greens three—set up Weaver to be king-maker, it also allowed him to strike a deal that cements his ability to call the shots for awhile.

The Greens don’t need to be part of a coalition government—or even maintain the threat of toppling the government—to have an impact. They have more power right now. They can influence what the new government does. The question is, how will they use that power?

Both Horgan and Clark know the support of Weaver and his other two Green MLAs will be needed to pass—or thwart—any legislation once the B.C. Legislature resumes sitting and the moves are made to install B.C.’s first minority government in more than 60 years.

While all the talk leading up to this has been about who Weaver would side with in the NDP-Liberal tug of war for power, Weaver, it appears, was playing the long game. But just how long it goes has yet to be seen.

From the get-go it seemed clear who his choice would be given the platform he ran on in the election campaign. Clark, for her part, would have had to jettison too much to win Weaver’s support and so, for all the talk about how close they were to making a deal, a Liberal-Green alliance was never really in the cards.

But there’s a difference between being given the keys to the car and driving it. And Horgan is about to find that out.

Weaver has already said he and his Green MLAs will support—and by inference also oppose—any legislation that they feel warrants their support or opposition. As long as it isn’t a confidence issue—such as the Throne Speech, the budget and other major supply bills—the Greens are free agents.

What B.C. voters did on election night is remarkable. Normally a party winning just three seats would be shrugged off as an also-ran, a caucus so small it doesn’t even qualify for official party status in the Legislature.

The Green Party—given the closeness of the other two parties seat-wise, is now the most powerful political party in B.C. They may be set to install the NDP to power and keep it there for awhile, but they are also set up to have a say—if they want it— in every piece of legislation the new government attempts to bring in.

And as for that official party status thing, just watch, I bet the Weaver-Horgan deal gives that change the Green light too.

Alistair Waters is the assistant editor of the Capital News

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