Opinion Column

B.C. election showdown shootout had 3 gunslingers but only 2 winners

By Bill Tieleman, News, Views, and Attitude – 24 hours

NDP Leader John Horgan, B.C. Premier Christy Clark and Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver in action during the provincial party leaders' debate at CityTV in Vancouver, April 20, 2017. (NICK PROCAYLO/Postmedia)

NDP Leader John Horgan, B.C. Premier Christy Clark and Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver in action during the provincial party leaders' debate at CityTV in Vancouver, April 20, 2017. (NICK PROCAYLO/Postmedia)

“You see, in this world there's two kinds of people, my friend: Those with loaded guns and those who dig. You dig.” — Clint Eastwood in The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

B.C.’s election came down Monday to a final, climactic showdown, a political shootout between the B.C. Liberals, NDP and Greens – where only two winners could emerge.

And like the epic last scene in the classic western movie The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, the twitchy calculations of three gunslingers – BC Liberal Premier Christy Clark, NDP leader John Horgan and Green leader Andrew Weaver – eyeing each other and the extreme tension they feel was nerve wracking for BC.

Weaver pulled the trigger first in a surprise draw, announcing the Greens have an agreement with the B.C. NDP, effectively making Horgan our new premier in the days ahead.

For Clark, it’s the end of the line – as premier and as leader of the B.C. Liberal Party. She lost this showdown and will now face another over her leadership – unless she steps down soon.

But the B.C. Liberal caucus, facing the potential of years in opposition, won’t want to go into the next election led by Clark after her failure to secure a majority despite the best provincial economy in Canada and four balanced budgets.

And the B.C. Liberals not only lose their enormous financial advantage from massive unlimited corporate and foreign political donations; they also won’t have a multi-million partisan government advertising budget to promote themselves.

There were always only three possibilities: a B.C. NDP-Greens agreement; a B.C. Liberal-Green deal or the Greens saying they will go “issue by issue” without an ongoing commitment of support.

When you gamed the options out, however, only one made sense for the B.C. Greens – an agreement with the B.C. NDP.

Both parties share significant parts of their platform: ending corporate and union political donations; opposing the Kinder Morgan oil pipeline; deep concerns about B.C. Hydro’s expensive Site C dam; banning grizzly bear trophy hunting and more.

But the B.C. Liberals disagreed with all of that. How could Weaver have reached a deal with Clark?

And so the showdown is over – as the two winners, Horgan and Weaver will now focus on forming a new progressive government. As the loser, Clark faces a bleak political future.

Bill Tieleman is a former NDP strategist. Read his blog at billtieleman.blogspot.com. Twitter: @BillTieleman