Lt. Governor Judith Guichon’s role is ceremonial, except in times of minority when she may be called upon to decide if a new election is needed. (Black Press files)
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Lt. Governor Judith Guichon’s role is ceremonial, except in times of minority when she may be called upon to decide if a new election is needed. (Black Press files)

ELECTION 2017: B.C. will have first minority government in 64 years

Negotiations between parties may determine if B.C. Liberals can continue

With the long-awaited final vote count indicating a fragile minority win for Premier Christy Clark in the May 9 B.C. election, talks with the three-seat B.C. Green Party take centre stage as the B.C. Liberals and B.C. NDP attempt to make a case for forming government.

More than two weeks after voting day, absentee ballots confirmed a win for NDP candidate Ronna-Rae Leonard in Courtenay-Comox, giving the NDP 41 seats in the new 87-seat B.C. legislature. The B.C. Liberals finish with 43 seats, one short of a majority.

Talks with the three-seat B.C. Green Party have taken centre stage in recent weeks, as the B.C. Liberals and B.C. NDP attempt to make a case for forming government.

As party representatives try to negotiate an agreement with Green Party leader Andrew Weaver to support one or the other major party in crucial votes, the focus shifts to B.C. Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon. Her largely ceremonial role becomes pivotal as she must invite either Clark or NDP leader John Horgan to form a new government.

History as well as numbers are on Clark’s side for now. The B.C. Liberals won the most seats and Guichon would need a clear reason to call for a change, such as the defeat of the government in a vote on its pre-election budget.

With support from the Greens, the B.C. Liberals would be expected to convene the legislature by July to present a throne speech and pass their pre-election budget. Its key provision, a 50-per-cent cut to Medical Services Plan premiums starting in January, was a similar commitment to the NDP and Green platforms.

If the B.C. Liberal government is defeated on a budget or other “confidence” vote in the early days of the new session, Guichon would be expected to offer Horgan’s NDP a chance to govern rather than call another election immediately.

The last time B.C. had a minority government was 1952, when W.A.C. Bennett’s Social Credit Party won 19 of 48 seats in a legislature that included Liberal, Conservative and CCF parties. The following year, Bennett engineered the defeat of his own government and won the first of seven straight majorities.

Courtenay Comox NDP winner Ronna Rae Leonard

Posted by Comox Valley Record Newsroom on Wednesday, May 24, 2017

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