Opinion Column

Why B.C. NDP government will last longer than B.C. Liberals think

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

John Horgan. (Carmine Marinelli/Vancouver 24hours File Photo)

John Horgan. (Carmine Marinelli/Vancouver 24hours File Photo)

“It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds.” - Samuel Adams, American revolutionary 1722-1803

The incoming B.C. New Democrat Party government to be led by John Horgan and backed by the B.C. Green Party is going to last a lot longer than the B.C. Liberals and some pundits think.

Despite the narrowest of majority – just one vote – when the combined 41 NDP MLAs join with three Green MLAs versus the 43 B.C. Liberals, the predictions of doom, trickery by outgoing Premier Christy Clark to stay in power and legislative stalemate over the speaker are all wrong.

Here’s why.

First, majorities truly matter, even the thinnest. And a strong majority of voters chose progressive change over more of the same from the B.C. Liberals after 16 years in office.

Second, while all legislation could be decided by one vote, few bills will be confidence votes that could defeat the government. On those, the speaker will legally support the new government.

Third, any desperate attempt by Clark to thwart the electoral results would backfire into a disaster.

And the B.C. Liberal caucus knows Clark isn’t the leader for either the 2021 scheduled election or a snap election before then.

Hours after the election Clark’s most powerful B.C. Liberal foe – ex-Finance Minister Kevin Falcon – condemned her government.

“For the B.C. Liberals, they really got hammered particularly in the Lower Mainland, and I think that reflects frustration over a number of issues, campaign finance, lack of progress over transportation projects, and just a little too much politics and not quite enough policy initiative,” Falcon said.

And a post-election Insights West poll showed that three possible minority government results garnered 48% support: an NDP minority government led by Horgan; an NDP majority government or a B.C. Liberal minority government not led by Clark.

The fourth option of a B.C. Liberal minority led by Clark had only 38% backing.

Without question B.C. politics can be the wildest and most unpredictable in Canada – and the NDP-Green agreement is yet another example.

But the odds of a stable NDP government for 18 to 24 months is a decent bet – and a far better one than Christy Clark still being BC Liberal leader by then.

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