Adding another plot twist to an already over-extended election cycle, British Columbia's Green and New Democrat leaders just announced a deal that will likely unseat BC's long-sitting BC Liberal premier, Christy Clark. The move could dramatically change the fate of several energy megaprojects planned for western Canada.
BC Liberals have been in power for 16 years, and Clark has been leading the province since 2011. In an election earlier this month, Clark's Liberals won the most seats with 43, but landed one short of a majority. NDP earned 41 seats with a fraction of a percent less of the popular vote, and Greens held on to the balance of power with three. The new deal would give the NDP the 44 seats needed to form a minority government.
"Sixty percent of British Columbians voted for change, and we are going to give BC that change," BCNDP Leader John Horgan told media outside the BC legislature. The two parties both stressed "commonalities" in policy as reason for the "difficult decision." Both have spoken out about electoral reform and a ban on both corporate and union donations.
BC Green leader Andrew Weaver said details of the agreement would be released Tuesday, after the deal is formally ratified. But he did mention that Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion factored heavily into his party's decision. He's repeatedly said the pipeline expansion would ruin the province's chances of meeting climate commitments.
"Kinder Morgan was one that was critical to us, and you'll see that reflected in tomorrow's announcement," he said. Weaver was a formal intervenor during the project's environmental review, and has called for a moratorium on heavy oil tanker traffic on British Columbia's coast. The controversial project will start trading shares publicly tomorrow.
Indigenous and environmental groups are already speculating what an NDP-Green collab will mean for other already-approved projects like the Site C hydroelectric dam and a massive liquified natural gas terminal near Prince Rupert. "We won't know the details for a while, but we will be here to hold government accountable," Don Bain of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs said in a statement to supporters.
In a statement following the presser, Clark said the move "could have far-reaching consequences for our province's future." The premier has repeatedly said her opponents will mess up the economy, that her party is the only one capable of creating jobs.
Weaver brushed away these concerns during Monday's media scrum. "Frankly and with respect, Ms. Clark has been getting away with that kind of rhetoric for far too long," he said, pointing to the premier's unkept promises to create 100,000 jobs, eliminate the province's debt and create a $100 billion prosperity fund with liquified natural gas revenue. "You'll see real stable job growth, not boom and bust job growth."
Though the handshake appears to signal the end of Clark's government, the fate of the province isn't decided yet. Clark can decide to resign and let the NDP-Green minority take the reigns, or test the confidence of the legislature with her own throne speech. She could also technically dissolve the government and call another election.
Clark's post-deal statement didn't hint at which path she might take. "As the incumbent government, and the party with the most seats in the legislature, we have a responsibility to carefully consider our next steps."
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