By Umendra Singh
There seems to be storm clouds brewing in the political paradise that is the BC NDP and BC Greens. And the storm (more like a storm in tea cup) is brewing over the question of who is going to be elected the Speaker of the BC Legislature when the BC NDP, supported by the BC Greens, topple the BC Liberals and, possibly, form government.
Every good plot in a story has a weak link.Same in this political drama.
BC Liberals won 43 seats, NDP 41 and BC Greens 3. The BC Greens agreed to prop up a NDP government -if some of its policies were implemented into laws – and a formal agreement was signed by the two sides. But there could be a problem. NDP and BC Greens add up to 44 seats and if one of their members becomes the Speaker, it will be a 43 -43 tie in the Legislature – with the speaking voting only to break a tie. The Speaker usually comes from the government benches but doesn’t have to. When informed of the potential of every vote in the Legislature ending up in a tie, an upset Green leader, Andrew Weaver said that he had been promised by the NDP leader John Horgan that they would convince a Liberal MLA, maybe Linda Reid or Sam Sullivan, to be the Speaker – thereby always maintaining a 44 to 42 vote advantage over the Liberals in the Legislature. This is a weak link in the plot. Why would any Liberal agree to be a Speaker to allow a NDP-Green majority in the Legislature votes? Just like why would any NDPer become a Speaker to prop up a Liberal government? Maybe someone like Linda Reid, who has been a MLA for many years and will get a pension anyways, may consider it but you can bet your bottom dollar that the Liberals, like other parties, are guarding their MLAs jealously like hawks guarding new born chicks.
So this Thursday, June 22, the Legislature will meet, the Liberals will pick a Speaker from their ranks, unless they can bribe someone from NDP or Greens, which is unlikely but not impossible. This will leave the Legislature with a Liberal Speaker, Liberals with 43 seats, NDP 41 and BC Greens 3. Liberals will proceed with a throne speech and a proposed budget. The following week the NDP and Greens will either move a motion of no confidence in Premier Christy Clark or vote down her budget – NDP/ Greens will have 44 votes and the Liberals will have 43. The Liberal Speaker won’t get to vote because the vote will not be a tie. The Liberal government will fall and the NDP, with Green support, will form government and be in the same dilemma as the Liberals will be this coming week. The NDP will have to appoint someone from their ranks to the Speaker s post, leaving them with forty 40 MLAs and 3 from Greens for total of 43 seats and the Liberals will have 43. At the first opportunity, the 43 Liberals will try vote down 4O NDP and 3 BC Greens. The NDP Speaker will save the day by voting to break a tie each time. But for how long will this go on? The NDP government will be teetering on the brink relying on a tie and Speaker voting to break the tie. The BC Greens are not happy with this catch 22 situation and Andrew Weaver made his displeasure known this week.
The tenuous hold the NDP and BC Greens will have on power could break a t any time and lead to another election. It may be even before that because the BC Greens may pull out of the agreement sooner rather than later.
The Lt Governor o I’ll call the election next week without giving the NDP a chance to form government if she determines there is no point in dragging out the inevitable.