Should her government be defeated Thursday, Christy Clark won’t be asking Lt.-Gov Judith Guichon for a snap election – but she won’t be discouraging one either.
The B.C. premier held a news conference Wednesday on the eve of a confidence vote that’s expected to topple her Liberal government, and once again reassured voters she has no intention of advising the lieutenant-governor to dissolve the legislature and send voters back to the polls.
But Clark vowed she would tell Guichon she believes a minority government headed by the NDP’s John Horgan would be unworkable, should she be asked for her opinion.
“She will probably ask me some questions, and if she asks whether this legislature is working or if it can work, I’ve got to be honest,” Clark said. “I haven’t seen any evidence that it could.”
The premier denied that answer would be tantamount to recommending another election less than two months after the last, however.
“It will be her decision about whether or not to make that call. And I’m going to let her make that call,” Clark said. “If she does ask me any questions, I’m not going to lie.”
Clark cited two Liberal bills that were introduced this week, one that would have banned political donations from corporations and unions and another that would have awarded official party status to the B.C. Greens, as evidence of the unworkability of the legislature.
Both bills were defeated on first reading, despite being part of the NDP and Green platforms. The parties accused the Liberals of using the motions to delay their downfall, and said both issues would be addressed after they defeat the government in a confidence vote.
“British Columbians have been watching this all week, it is not a functional place, and the Greens and the NDP just aren’t interested in collaborating,” Clark said.
The premier did not say whether the Liberals would make further efforts to collaborate should the party be relegated to the role of opposition.
Speaking with reporters earlier in the day, Horgan said he’s looking forward to dealing with MLAs from all parties if the NDP is given a chance to govern.
“There are good people on all sides of the house and this is an opportunity for all of us to demonstrate that to the broader community,” he said. “We can and should work together.”
Voters don’t want an election, Horgan added, an assertion backed by multiple polls that found a majority of British Columbians want to avoid a snap election.
“I would hope that after seven weeks, after it being abundantly clear to all British Columbians that change is what people voted for, that they should be able to get that change. We are all ready to go,” Horgan said.
Earlier in the day, the Liberals made the unusual move of releasing an unaudited fiscal update that suggests the province enjoyed a $2.8-billion surplus in 2016/17, which is higher than the previous forecast.
That’s also slightly higher than the $2.6-billion in promises made in the party’s throne speech, which borrowed heavily from the NDP and Green platforms.
Horgan said he will wait for the fully audited numbers before commenting on the potential windfall the NDP would be in charge of if elevated to power.