B.C. NDP leader John Horgan, B.C. Liberal leader Christy Clark and B.C. Greens leader Andrew Weaver (Katya Slepian/Black Press)

Parties jockey for position in B.C. minority

NDP’s John Horgan says he and Christy Clark have nothing to talk about

B.C. Liberal Christy Clark says she’s willing to work with anyone to improve things for B.C. residents. So does B.C. Green Andrew Weaver.

B.C. NDP leader John Horgan will work with the Greens to replace Clark.

More than a week after the B.C. election, all three parties are delicately beginning negotiations to find common ground in a minority legislature that may remain after the final count is known May 24.

Weaver said Wednesday his party’s three seats will be pivotal, even if absentee ballots swing the result in Courtenay-Comox in favour of the B.C. Liberal candidate who trails by nine votes. A bare majority of 44 seats would still leave Clark with a minority, because neither opposition party is likely to nominate a speaker and give up a voting MLA.

Horgan was emphatic that his discussions with the B.C. Liberals haven’t gone beyond the courtesy call stage, and his staff are speaking only with B.C. Green staff. Their positions on increasing the carbon tax before the B.C. Liberals are similar, and both are opposed to the Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion.

“I believe the 170,000 ballots still to be counted will confirm more or less the outcome that we’ve got now,” Horgan told reporters at the legislature Tuesday. “And I believe that working with the other opposition party we can come up with a resolution that will meet the interests of all British Columbians.”

Weaver said one of his party’s foundational principles is voting by proportional representation, and he will seek that in any cooperation deal. Clark noted that she supported that in her days in her days as a radio talk show host, but her government has made no move to promote that since two referendums failed during Gordon Campbell’s time as premier.

Clark denied a report this week that she has begun making changes to her government’s pre-election budget to accommodate the Greens. No changes can be made until the final seat total is known, she said.

Clark has said that with the most popular vote and the most seats, the B.C. Liberals expect to have the first opportunity to call the legislature back and govern. If the government loses a confidence vote on a budget, or money supply that currently is in place only until this fall, the NDP may be called upon to form a government.

If neither can hold a majority on important votes, B.C. would be on the way to another election.