ELECTION 2017: B.C. will have first minority government in 64 years

Negotiations between parties may determine if B.C. Liberals can continue

  • May. 25, 2017 12:00 p.m.

Liberal Premier Christy Clark will lead B.C. with a minority government, as the final count in the 41st provincial election is in.

Elections B.C. has announced a minority government win for Clark, with a final count of 43 for the Liberals seats – one short of maintaining a majority.

More than two weeks after voting day, absentee ballots favour a win for NDP candidate Ronna-Rae Leonard in Courtenay-Comox, giving the NDP 41 seats in the new 87-seat B.C. legislature.

“It’s a really good feeling … you gotta just live in the moment,” said Leonard shortly after the results were announced. “That’s the only way to survive this roller coaster ride. I’m just so pleased that the people of British Columbia voted for change and we get to move forward now.”

After three days of counting, Elections BC announced Wednesday afternoon Leonard received 10,886 votes to BC Liberal candidate Jim Benninger’s 10,697.

“I know a lot of people – many people – were eyeing Courtenay-Comox, but the fact is the votes had been cast already, so the die was set, and we just had to wait for it to unfold, and that takes away the pressure a little bit,” she added.

Benninger congratulated Leonard on her victory, and explained he doesn’t have any regrets from the campaign.

“We didn’t leave anything on the bench. For me, this was the training ground. I’ve now gone through the process once, and understand it quite a bit better. I think if I had another chance to go through it, I would be very much stronger and we’d have come that much closer, if not, to a victory.”

Talks with the three-seat B.C. Green Party have taken centre stage in recent weeks, as the B.C. Liberals and B.C. NDP attempt to make a case for forming government.

As party representatives try to negotiate an agreement with Green Party leader Andrew Weaver to support one or the other major party in crucial votes, the focus shifts to B.C. Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon. Her largely ceremonial role becomes pivotal as she must invite either Clark or NDP leader John Horgan to form a new government.

History as well as numbers are on Clark’s side for now. The B.C. Liberals won the most seats and Guichon would need a clear reason to call for a change, such as the defeat of the government in a vote on its pre-election budget.

With support from the Greens, the B.C. Liberals would be expected to convene the legislature by July to present a throne speech and pass their pre-election budget. Its key provision, a 50-per-cent cut to Medical Services Plan premiums starting in January, was a similar commitment to the NDP and Green platforms.

If the B.C. Liberal government is defeated on a budget or other “confidence” vote in the early days of the new session, Guichon would be expected to offer Horgan’s NDP a chance to govern rather than call another election immediately.

The last time B.C. had a minority government was 1952, when W.A.C. Bennett’s Social Credit Party won 19 of 48 seats in a legislature that included Liberal, Conservative and CCF parties. The following year, Bennett engineered the defeat of his own government and won the first of seven straight majorities.

Courtenay Comox NDP winner Ronna Rae Leonard

Posted by Comox Valley Record Newsroom on Wednesday, May 24, 2017

BC Election 2017BC Votes 2017