Speaking of the “Speaker”
Prince George, B.C. – Minister of Finance and House Leader, Mike de Jong says while a stable government may have been the intent of Green Leader Andrew Weaver, the exact opposite has happened.
At issue is the position of Speaker of the House. The government is responsible for ensuring there is a person in that post. The Speaker only votes in the case of a tie, and traditionally supports the government. But de Jong says the idea that if defeated, the Liberals would allow one from their own ranks to continue to “prop up” the NDP/ Green alliance, “Just reveals just how ill thought out this whole approach is.”
“I don’t think they thought this through” says de Jong, “In the desire of the opposition to try and form a government in difficult minority circumstances, they cobbled together this agreement without really thinking about its practical workability.”
Here’s the problem. Right now the Liberals have 43 seats. The NDP and Greens have a combined 44 seats. Once the Liberals put forth a speaker, they will be down to 42 and the combined Opposition would have a two seat majority. But, if the Liberals are defeated in a non confidence vote, it would be expected the combined Opposition (that would become Government), would put forth their own Speaker, so once again, there would be a government with 43 seats, and the opposition ( the Liberals in this case) would have 43. This is the reason why the NDP/Greens want the Liberal Speaker to remain in the chair.
“Mr. Weaver ( Green Party leader) stated first and foremost was that he was seeking stability, and then he went about negotiating an agreement that achieves precisely the opposite” says de Jong.
The Legislature resumes next Thursday, at which time a Throne speech will be delivered. There will then be up to 6 days of debate on that speech, during which time de Jong says the opposition could force a vote of confidence, which would, in effect topple the government. “My guess is that will take place after four days of debate on the Throne speech. and we’ll see what happens there.”
While the NDP and Greens have criticized the Christy Clark team for taking so long to reconvene the Legislature, de Jong says the timing is not unusual at all, especially given the circumstances “I went back and checked, and the last six elections have taken place in May in only one other instance, has the House convened earlier than June 22nd, so I understand how desperately anxious they are, they have an opportunity now to form government, but we were delayed a couple of weeks longer from this election because we didn’t know who’d won.”
It is not lost on de Jong that this election clearly demonstrated an urban rural divide among voters “Many people, not all, but many people in the Lower Mainland cant get their head wound the fact that so much success we ( British Columbia) have had as a Province is attributable to what is taking place in our resource dependent communities and the new economies that have grow up in Northern B.C.”
But as rare as the current political scenario may be in B.C. there are rules that must be followed says deJong “There is a set of time honoured rules and standing orders that have built up not only over decades but over centuries to guide how this takes place. So when I say the NDP and Greens are unable to create , as much as they desire to, a practical working majority it is because of those rules, it’s because of the obligations they have to provide a Speaker, to provide a Chair for committee, once they start to do that, it’s clear the majority of one starts to disappear.” He says he is concerned about talk the NDP and Greens intend to change the rules to suite this circumstance “That’s very dangerous, these are rules, protocols and conventions that have developed, as I said, over centuries. They are what gives our democratic institutions stability and predictability.”
Ultimately the scenario will see Lieutenant Governor Judith Gouchon having to make a decision about sending voters back to the polls says de Jong as the “workability” of the NDP/Green majority “is very much in doubt.”
I think Weaver has overplayed his hand and risks loosing all credibility with his rants. Prior to the election I seen Weaver as the only adult in a leadership position, but clearly that is not the case and the wiff of power has shown his true colours. Horgan just sits back and hopes it all works out and who could blame him… it’s the green Weaver show at this point.
Without a Northern BC party to vote for I think Clark is the only leader left standing and another election will probably see a liberal majority so long as they keep their cool and continue to follow established democratic protocol. I don’t think the Lt Governor will allow the green/ndp coalition to proceed since they don’t have enough MLA’s to form a majority with speaker. So a confidence vote is a vote to go back to the polls and if that happens I think the ndp looses big time, and probably for another generation.
I think the big problem for instability here is with Lt Gov Judith Gouchon for waffling on the implications of a confidence vote. She should be clear that if the governing liberals fail a confidence vote and the coalition does not have a liberal speaker then we are off to the polls. To do otherwise fails the role of the crown in our democratic process. I also think she needs to speak up about the coalition plans to change our democracy and eliminate responsible government as it’s the protection of the crown that ensures we have our voting rights in the north and rural BC protected from assimilation by the majority.
Time Will Tell
One can expect that Mr de Jong is somewhat biased in his interpretation of how events will unfold, but there are other points to consider. The Liberals are currently the government, so when the Legislature finally gets to meet, it will be the Liberals who are responsible for ensuring there is a Speaker, and tradition dictates that it should be one of their members. Up to that point there is really no dispute.
The question is whether the Speaker appointed from the ranks of the Liberals is appointed for the whole session, that is until the next election, or whether they are appointed only for as long as the leader of the Liberal party permits them to remain Speaker. In other words, should the Speaker be used in political gamesmanship by Christy Clarke and de Jong?
In my opinion, the Speaker is appointed to a non-partisan position for the whole session which is supposed to be for four years and they must behave in a non partisan manner for the whole of those four years. They should not be participating in political gamesmanship at any time, including when the Government of the day is defeated. Resigning as Speaker solely because the Liberal party is defeated in a confidence vote would be a bluntly partisan act and violate the traditional non partisan behaviour of the office.
It is worth remembering that the Speaker is appointed by all MLAs, of all parties, not just by the party to which they belong, and they answer to the whole house, not their party leader or deputy. For that reason alone, if the Speaker appointed by the House were to follow the dictates of Clarke or de Jong it would be a gossly and gratuitously partisan act which would be rejecting the legislature rights in favour of an attempt to ingratiate with a particular party hierarchy.
Again, in my opinion, the only time a Speaker should be removed from office under these current circumstances would be if the Lieutenant Governor decided to call another election when the Liberals lose their confidence motion. If she did that, then the session would be at an end. I do think that the objectivity and non partisan behaviour of the Speaker is an important part of our legislative traditions and I hope that the Liberal appointed by the House has enough respect for those traditions to remain as Speaker.
Well since tradition dictates the governing party supply the speaker and the ndp/green coalition become the gov’t tradition says it should be from them.
John Horgan needs to realize he doesn’t have the numbers to govern. He can not push his agenda and keep confidence in the house. If we go to the polls then the ndp might not be relevant in BC politics for a very long time.
I would suggest he authorize the most centrist and independent of his MLA’s (a dirty half dozen) to exercise their independence to support government in the role a green coalition with the liberals would have played, but bargaining for ndp strategy… And playing for time until the political landscape is ripe for a fresh election at their choosing. Otherwise their greed for power could cost them huge in an early snap election they have no resources left to fight.
Make excuses like this policy is one we can work on for the best of the province… And as an indipendent decision from the party said MLA wishes to avoid a snap election at this time…. Give a year or even a half year and they won’t so much take the blame for a hung government. Maybe we could get some good cooperative governance in BC as a result.
The Greens and the NDP will topple the Government and then regardless of where the speaker comes from, they will form the Government. I am inclined to agree with Ammonra when it comes to the responsibilities of the speaker. In any event the speaker votes to break ties, and usually votes with the Government so in effect the Greens/NDP have a majority of one.
The L Governor could call another election, however she does have a responsibility to see if the Greens and NDP can form a Government.
De Jong, Christie, and others are like a kid whistling while walking past a graveyard at night.
I have not heard, or seen anything that would indicate that there would be a big change on how people vote if we go into another election. My guess is that most people would vote the same, and those who are able to gather up additional votes will win a majority. The Greens/NDP are all revved up after coming this close to winning, and will be hell bent to get a majority.
The Liberals on the other hand have come to the end of the line. They came as close as you can get to losing this time around, and they have nothing to offer voters in another election. So I believe that they will lose big time.
The Liberals had a big dog and pony show for years, however the show is over, they are down to one dog, and one pony.
“and usually votes with the Government so in effect the Greens/NDP have a majority of one.” .. wrong. The tradition is to vote the status quo, in other words keep the bill as it is, effectively giving the liberals a majority of one. What makes you think people would vote the same, I think you would see a lot of pissed off green voters going back to the liberal side after what weaver pulled.
What are the **new** economies that have grown up in Northern BC??
Perhaps de Jong is referring to the export of workers to other parts of the country ;) ..in his defense, Site C has a large employee base .. my question is where are these workers coming from .. perhaps from Alberta pseudo unions.
Somewhere I recently saw a remark that said eight out of ten license plates at the dam are from AB./
What do license plates mean? You think maybe a lot of people go to alberta to get cheaper insurance.
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