News / Vancouver

Horgan says NDP and Greens differ on path to electoral reform

If the Green Party and NDP work together to form British Columbia’s next government, one party will have to compromise on how to get to electoral reform.

B.C. NDP leader John Horgan addresses his new caucus in Vancouver, Thursday, May 18, 2017.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

B.C. NDP leader John Horgan addresses his new caucus in Vancouver, Thursday, May 18, 2017.

To referendum or not referendum?

That was the question hanging over NDP leader John Horgan’s head Thursday as he addressed the media after the party’s first post-election caucus meeting in Vancouver.

Horgan has been courting Andrew Weaver and the BC Green Party in a bid to form British Columbia’s next government after a historic close election.

Both parties want to ban corporate and union donations from politics, support electoral reform and have promised increased education and child care spending, among other similarities.

Where the parties differ, though, is how to get to electoral reform.

The NDP campaigned on a promise to hold a referendum on a proportional representation system, while the Greens would go ahead and implement it without going to the public first.

Asked if he would back away from a referendum if it means forming government, Horgan only said he was “open to discussions” with Weaver about it.

“We want proportional representation. The Greens want it,” said Horgan. “In this case, it’s a difference of how do we get there and I’m prepared to discuss it with Mr. Weaver.”

As it currently stands, the BC Liberals hold 43 seats in the Legislature, to the NDP’s 41 and the Greens’ three but there are still more than 170,000 absentee ballots to count next week, which could flip several close ridings.

All three parties have been fairly tight-lipped about ongoing negotiations with each other as they position themselves to form government, but Horgan has ramped up talk about a possible NDP-Green Party coalition.

“Almost 60 per cent of people who cast ballots voted for a new government. I believe that Andrew Weaver and his colleagues and the group of people with me here today [the NDP caucus] can form that government,” he said. “We have lots of common ground with the Green Party and we’ve explored that in discussions. I have every confidence there is more that binds us together than separates us.”

That coalition isn’t a forgone conclusion.

Christy Clark said also signaled her intent to work across party lines and remain premier of the province and Weaver hasn’t ruled out propping up another Liberal government.

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