Clark Recalls British Columbia Legislature to Face Political Defeat

  • Legislature will resume June 22 in coastal Canadian province
  • New Democrats set to take power after cutting deal with Greens

Christy Clark

Photographer: Scott Eells/Bloomberg

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark readied for political defeat, setting a date for the resumption of the legislature this month that will usher in the Canadian province’s first minority government in more than six decades.

The assembly will resume in Victoria on June 22, Clark’s office said in an emailed statement. The first order of business will be to elect a new speaker, after which Clark will test the confidence of the legislature, according to the statement.

Clark is expected to lose the confidence vote after a closely fought election in which her Liberal Party, in power since 2001, failed to win a majority by one seat. An alliance between the New Democratic Party and Greens is set to pave the way for John Horgan, the 57-year-old NDP leader and former pulp mill worker, to take over as premier.

Why a Provincial Canada Vote Matters for Business

A standoff looms ahead over the speaker’s election, without which nothing can happen in the legislature. The Liberals hold 43 of the assembly’s 87 seats, while the NDP and Greens jointly hold 44 -- the bare minimum required to pass bills on their own. As a result, no party wants to lose a member to become speaker, normally a ceremonial role to enforce house rules and vote only in the event of a tie.

Linda Reid of the Liberal Party is the incumbent speaker. The Liberals have agreed that none of them will stand for election for that position, forcing the NDP or Greens to give up one lawmaker to take on the role. That sets the province up for a deadlocked legislature -- 43 to 43 -- in which the new speaker becomes a constant tie-breaker.

The NDP and Greens have struck a pact to pass budgets and maintain an NDP-led government until the next scheduled election in four years. They’ve also agreed to push ahead on about a dozen common causes, which include blocking Kinder Morgan Inc.’s Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion.

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