Photographer: Ben Nelms/Bloomberg

British Columbia Greens Back the NDP in Political Upheaval

  • Canadian province faces first minority government in 65 years
  • Parties rule out possibility of coalition government

British Columbia’s New Democratic and Green parties announced a four-year alliance aimed at forming the Canadian province’s first minority government in more than six decades.

Green leader Andrew Weaver said his party has agreed to support the New Democrats -- which got close to winning half the seats in the provincial parliament this month. Details will be released Tuesday after the pact is ratified by members of the New Democratic Party, leader John Horgan said at a news conference with Weaver in Victoria.

“We’re looking to show British Columbians that minority governments can work,” Weaver, 55, told reporters, saying the parties have ruled out forming a coalition. “We’re not looking to have an election any time soon.”

The alliance may be setting the stage for a leadership battle in the Pacific Coast province between Horgan, a feisty 57-year-old former pulp mill worker, and B.C. Premier Christy Clark, 51. The premier has indicated she intends to continue governing after her Liberal Party won the most seats in parliament -- but fell one short of a majority -- in a fiercely contested election this month.

The Liberals won 43 seats, the NDP took 41, and the Greens conquered 3 -- the first time the party has ever had more than one.

“As the incumbent government, and the party with the most seats in the legislature, we have a responsibility to carefully consider our next steps,” Clark said in a statement. “It’s vitally important that British Columbians see the specific details of the agreement announced today by the BC NDP and Green Party leaders, which could have far-reaching consequences for our province’s future.”

Trudeau and Kinder Morgan

The Green-NDP alliance could also be a headache for Prime Minster Justin Trudeau, whose federal government approved Kinder Morgan Inc.’s Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion. The new dynamic in the province is likely to cloud the outlook for that project.

“The decision we took on the Trans Mountain pipeline was based on facts and evidence, Trudeau said Tuesday in Rome. “Regardless of a change in government in British Columbia, or anywhere, the facts and evidence do not change.”

The province that boasts Canada’s fastest-growing economy hasn’t seen a party govern without a majority of the seats in the legislature since 1952. Even though minority governments aren’t unusual in Canada and a formal coalition isn’t necessary to govern, such a tight outcome is rare. The NDP-Green alliance would have only a one-seat edge over the Liberals in the legislature, which some political commentators have called unsustainable.

The Green Party and NDP share similar ideas, such as raising carbon taxes and taxing housing speculators. The Kinder Morgan pipeline issue also played a “critical” role in the negotiations for a deal and will be reflected in details of the pact Tuesday, Weaver said.

Shares in the Canadian unit of the Houston-based company are set to start trading Tuesday morning after an initial public offering that’s expected to raise C$1.75 billion ($1.3 billion). Those funds will be used to help pay for the controversial C$7.4 billion project to nearly triple Trans Mountain’s capacity, which will allow Canada to start exporting oil to Asia but is vehemently opposed by many in B.C. because of fears of an oil spill.

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