Pipeline, dam await B.C. government direction

Christy Clark says no deal for government to face early vote

NDP leader John Horgan says he’s willing to meet with Premier Christy Clark on the transition to a new minority government, which he said is being “delayed unduly” while the B.C. Liberals reconvene the legislature.

Clark said Thursday decisions need to be made this month on permits and other pressing issues for the Site C hydroelectric dam and the Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion, two multi-billion-dollar projects that have been caught up in the lengthy uncertainty following the near-tie in the May 9 B.C. election.

Horgan sidestepped the question of whether permits should be issued in June, with the earliest date for a non-confidence vote likely to be June 29. If the B.C. Liberal government is defeated then, Horgan would have to choose a cabinet and have ministers sworn in before action could be taken.

B.C. Liberal and NDP MLAs took their oaths of office at the B.C. legislature Thursday, preparing for the new session starting June 22 that will likely result in an NDP minority government.

The NDP MLAs were greeted with cheers from a packed public gallery, while the B.C. Liberal ceremony was a sombre affair, with few guests in attendance.

Clark said the final decision on transfer of power to an NDP-Green alliance is up to Lt. Gov. Judith Guichon, who could choose to call another election to break an almost deadlocked legislature.

Clark declined to comment on whether the B.C. Liberals will appoint a speaker from their 43 MLAs. She said co-operation between the B.C. Liberals and NDP is not likely, either in selecting a speaker or presenting a throne speech, where government lays out its priorities and the opposition has its first chance to defeat the government in a confidence vote.

B.C. Liberal house leader Mike de Jong said there are clear traditions to follow.

“If there is to be a transition, and it appears that is likely, there is a correct and proper way for that to happen,” de Jong said. “The responsibility falls to the party that wishes to govern to ensure there is someone in the [speaker’s] chair.”

A throne speech delivered on June 22 would require a minimum number of days of debate.

“The opposition has the means of tabling an amendment after the second day of debate,” de Jong said. “That amendment is a confidence matter, and there is ultimately a vote at the conclusion of debate on the fourth day.”

Since the legislature doesn’t sit on Fridays, that means the B.C. Liberal government could be defeated as early as Thursday, June 29.