B.C. Government – The Next Steps
Prince George, B.C. – As the week starts, there are two questions being asked; when will Christy Clark recall the legislature, and who will be the speaker of the house?Clark has indicated she would issue the call to return to work “sooner rather than later”. It will take about two weeks between the actual call being made to the resumption of work in the House. If she was to issue the call today, the earliest the Legislature would resume is June 19th.
“One of the first orders of business is the election of the Speaker” says UNBC Political Science lecturer Jason Morris. The Speaker is the “chair” of the activities in the legislature, and is supposed to be non-partisan, and only votes in the event of a tie vote in the House. Morris says convention dictates the Speaker vote in favour of the government which, until defeated in a non confidence vote, is Christy Clark’s Liberals.
The agreement between the NDP and the Green party means they have 44 seats, one more than the Liberals 43. “It looks like we may have a member of the NDP take on that role ( as Speaker)” says Morris. That would leave the government and opposition tied at 43 seats, and the tie breaking vote in the lap of the Speaker. “Any MLA can put their name forward for the role of Speaker, but then the MLAs vote for the Speaker. Presumably it will be the acclamation of one person” says Morris “I can’t see the Liberals putting someone forward and losing a vote.”
He says there are rumblings there will be an NDP speaker who will break from convention and vote against the Throne Speech, “Which is a confidence vote to bring down the Christy Clark government. Then at that time, there could be an election, but it’s more likely the Lieutenant Governor would ask if anyone is capable of forming government which would presumably be a Premier Horgan backed by the Greens with that agreement they made last week.”
So if an MLA from the alliance becomes Speaker, there would always be a tie on any vote in the legislature, providing of course all MLAs are present. Making sure all MLAs are present for a vote may prove to be a challenge for all political parties says Morris “Party discipline will be in effect like never before” not only will all MLAs have to be present for important votes, they may be forced to abandon some of the promises they had made to constituents because they will have to vote with their team no matter what “Especially for rookie MLAs who made some promises to ‘take your concerns to Victoria’ they are in for a real shock.”
Just to make things a little more interesting, he says the whole scenario could change “If one member goes rogue and becomes independent, they effectively control the BC Government.”