The clock is ticking toward the end of 16 years of BC Liberal rule and, possibly, the end of Christy Clark’s political career.
BC Greens leader Andrew Weaver announced May 29 that his party would support a minority NDP government led by John Horgan, ending almost three weeks of uncertainty. He said it was a four-year deal and would give the province a “stable minority.”
The deal, which has not been released, is pending ratification by the NDP caucus on May 30.
The NDP won 41 seats in the May 9 election. The 41st was confirmed by a recount and absentee ballots in Courtenay-Comox last week. The Greens tripled their seats to three. The incumbent Liberals had 49 seats before dissolution, but fell to 43. That was one shy of majority status in the next 87-seat Legislature.
A hint of the announcement came late Sunday when Horgan and Weaver were photographed at Westhills Stadium in Langford at the final of the Canada 7s women’s rugby sevens tournament. Both insist they had further talks afterward.
Horgan and Weaver cited common platforms and that almost 60% of British Columbians voted for parties other than the Clark Liberals.
The announcement came three hours after Clark Tweeted a video of her outside her office at Canada Place, wearing green clothes, claiming that her party was working toward a “progressive” solution. Clark was the only one of the three leaders who was not involved in negotiations. She let Brad Bennett, the BC Hydro chair, head the Liberal committee.
theBreaker has learned that Clark called an emergency caucus meeting for 10 a.m. Monday, which meant she posted the video less than an hour later. A last, desperate pitch via social media while wearing a darker shade of the colour of the party she was hoping would help prop-up a party infested with corruption and cronyism.
Norman Spector, the former Brian Mulroney and Bill Bennett aide that Weaver enlisted for negotiations, gave a glimpse into how the deal was made. “It’s true that [Horgan] and [Weaver] worked very well over the past couple of weeks,” Spector Tweeted.
“Ultimately, BC Greens recoiled (sometimes physically) at the prospect of supporting a Liberal government.”
Weaver emphatically stated that the Greens have agreed to support an NDP minority government, rather than joining a coalition. The Green caucus will continue to meet separately and vote issue-by-issue, but will support the NDP throne speech and budget.
After ratification, the next step is a trip to Government House and a meeting with Lt. Gov. Judith Guichon. But will Clark resign or recall the Legislature, present a throne speech and resign when it’s defeated?
One way or another, the arrangement is destined to end the controversial rule of Clark as BC Liberal premier. Clark’s reign was marred by various scandals over limitless fundraising, spending taxpayers’ money on party campaigns and the unjust firing of eight researchers in the pharmaceuticals safety division of the Ministry of Health. One of them, Roderick MacIsaac, died of suicide.
Former Finance Minister Kevin Falcon is exploring a run for the leadership. Party sources tell theBreaker that Advanced Education Minister Andrew Wilkinson (Vancouver Quilchena) and backbencher Sam Sullivan (Vancouver False Creek) are organizing campaign teams. Supporters of former Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts are said to be discussing a leadership bid with the Conservative MP.
Clark defeated Falcon for the party leadership on Feb. 26, 2011 and was sworn-in as Gordon Campbell’s successor on March 14, 2011. She became the first woman in B.C. to lead a party to a provincial election victory when the Liberals upset Adrian Dix and the NDP on May 14, 2013. She lost her seat in Vancouver-Point Grey to the NDP’s David Eby, but returned to the Legislature in a summer 2013 by-election after Kelowna MLA Ben Stewart stepped aside. She rewarded him later that year with a $150,000-a-year job as B.C.’s Beijing-based trade envoy.
For more than a year, Clark governed under the cloud of the cash for access scandal. She appeared at unadvertised party fundraisers where attendees were charged as much as $20,000 to meet her. It was revealed that Clark received a $50,000-a-year stipend from the party. The RCMP and a special prosecutor are investigating donations made by lobbyists on behalf of their clients.
theBreaker revealed that the party paid for Clark’s Buick Enclave SUV from Dueck GM. She broke her promise to buy property in Kelowna. Instead, she lives in a rented Dunbar house that sold in 2016 for $3.7 million to a real estate investor who works for party donor and Vancouver Whitecaps’ owner Greg Kerfoot.
Clark, her public relations staff and even her lawyer all ignored questions from theBreaker about whether she actually pays rent to live in the house and who the owner really is.