Seven weeks after an election, the B.C. Liberal government continues to play games in a desperate attempt to hold onto power. Failing that, they are doing everything they can in an attempt to force another election in July.
Yesterday the BC Liberals introduced two bills that were defeated at First Reading. Had they not been defeated, the BC Liberals could have used their passage as evidence that they initially had the confidence of the house. Any subsequent non confidence vote would almost certainly have triggered another election. And such a vote is now scheduled on Thursday.
Rather than accepting the fact that they do not have the confidence of the house, today’s antics were in the form of a letter that Finance Minister de Jong presented to Honourable Steve Thomson, Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, seeking clarification regarding the role of the Speaker in the B.C. legislature.
Later in the day, Mike Farnworth, the BC NDP House Leader, sent the Speaker another letter. In this letter he criticized the BC Liberals for preempting “the Lieutenant Governor’s deliberative process by providing what amounts to constitutional legal advice to the legislature, based on the insulting proposition that Members are not able to collect and assess their own information on this matter.” He further noted “The majority of the Members of the House could as easily ask for your opinion on whether 44 votes in the legislature amounts to a greater or lesser number of voting members than 43. We will not do so, out of abundant respect for the nature of your office.”
Let’s be clear: If the concerns around the speaker cannot be resolved, it will be because the BC Liberals have once again chosen to put their own political self-interest ahead of the interests of British Columbians.
The Liberals delayed recalling the legislature, and have delayed a confidence vote. Other than Carole James, John Horgan, and me, none of the other BC NDP or BC Green MLAs will be speaking in response to the Throne Speech. We have to endure four days of BC Liberal MLAs speaking in favour of the throne speech. But the irony is mind boggling. Two months ago, these same MLAs were campaigning against the very same policies contained in the Throne Speech. Time after time the BC Liberal MLAs also talk about wanting working across party lines to implement BC Green and BC NDP campaign issues.
Conventions is clear. If the B.C. Liberals lose the confidence vote, then the Lieutenant Governor should first see if another party can form government and gain the confidence of the house before going to an election.
Our Confidence and Supply agreement with the B.C. NDP demonstrates that an NDP minority government under Mr. Horgan has the confidence of a majority of members.
The only reason the Speaker concerns would have any merit is if the B.C. Liberals have been deliberately misleading British Columbians about their willingness to work across party lines. It is beginning to seem like for the BC Liberals, working across party lines means BC Liberals will say anything or do anything so long as they remain in power.
If the B.C. Liberals are being honest with British Columbians when they say they want to avoid an election and work across party lines, then we will have one of the most productive legislatures in history. If the Speaker is truly impartial in his role, then he will not step down when the B.C. Liberal government falls.
As this week plays out, it certainly appears that the BC Liberals are acting like a belligerent child kicking and screaming while refusing to be put in a time-out for poor behaviour.