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How the Greens could wield power in a minority government

Political scientist David Moscrop lays out how the Greens could prop up either an NDP or Liberal government - or trigger another election

Andrew Weaver, BC Green MLA for Victoria-Oak Bay. In a minority government, Weaver and the two other Green MLAs who were elected on May 9 may hold the balance of power.

Jennifer Gauthier/For Metro

Andrew Weaver, BC Green MLA for Victoria-Oak Bay. In a minority government, Weaver and the two other Green MLAs who were elected on May 9 may hold the balance of power.

As British Columbia heads into the possibility of a minority provincial government, the party with the fewest seats may have the biggest role to play in shaping the tone and policies of the new government.

Currently the incumbent B.C. Liberals hold 43 seats, the NDP have 41 and B.C. Greens have three seats.

If the minority government scenario holds after the final vote count, the Greens could choose from one of four scenarios, said David Moscrop, a political scientist at the University of British Columbia.

“They could enter into a coalition with the Liberals or the NDP, or they could prop up an NDP minority government or prop up a Liberal minority government,” Moscrop explained.

“Christy Clark as the sitting premier will have the first crack at forming a government. She’ll try to bargain with (Green MLA Andrew) Weaver: maybe, we’ll give you some concessions on electoral reform, we’ll chance the finance rules in B.C. around political donations, we’ll reconsider this LNG project but we want Kinder Morgan.”

If Weaver decides to enter Clark’s cabinet, it becomes a coalition government. Or he can stay out of her government and instead simply agree to support the Liberals.

Although Weaver stressed he was willing to work with both the NDP and Liberals the day after the election, and even stressed his party’s greater alignment with the NDP, Moscrop believes there’s a good chance Weaver will choose to support the Liberals as they try to form government.

But the minority scenario likely means another election is in the cards for B.C. within the next year or 18 months.

“Christy Clark wants to remain in power, very plainly, and I’d imagine she’d sell quite a bit of the farm to remain in power — and Weaver is looking to buy,” Moscrop said.

It’s also very possible that after the final vote count, the Liberals will gain the seat they need to form a majority. However, that majority of just one vote will be shaky, Moscrop said: if just one MLA drops out, dies, or is “in the bathroom when a vote is called,” the balance of power could again switch. 

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