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EDITORIAL: Not hopeful about level of debate in legislature

Once government is sorted out, there’s plenty of room for improvement
NDP leader John Horgan, photographed in the legislature prior to the BC Liberals’ Speech from Throne, is poised to become premier this week. Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press

These are strange times in B.C. politics.

The vast majority of B.C. residents either weren’t around or don’t remember much about the last coalition government in this province, which lasted from 1941 to ‘51 and saw the Liberals and Conservatives join forces against the CCF, the predecessor of the NDP.

Therefore the current partnership between the BC NDP and the BC Green Party is a new concept for most of us, and is guaranteed, according to their leaders, by agreement through to the next scheduled election in 2021.

Let’s not forget, though, that this is a marriage of convenience, for both parties. It makes the NDP’s John Horgan the new premier and gives Green leader Andrew Weaver a say on all legislation in exchange for support on the vital issues of money supply and confidence in the government. Weaver still holds the hammer that could shatter the NDP’s fragile hold on power at any time.

While on the surface this might seem to be a sign of teamwork and co-operation in the legislature, there were a couple of signs in the past week or so that indicate no political peace will be witnessed in the house any time soon.

The BC Liberals and Christy Clark, who on election night said British Columbians “want us to work together, they want us to work across party lines, and they want us to find a way to get along,” bizarrely tabled legislation this week for changes her opponents campaigned for. But neither would play ball and chose to vote it down sight unseen, rather than pass bills reforming campaign financing and giving official party status to the Greens.

This week Horgan, rather than waiting patiently for things to run their course, couldn’t resist ramping up the rhetoric, imploring Clark to quit playing games and get on with allowing a confidence vote on her government, which was due to happen Thursday.

The chain of events leaves us with little hope for the kind of co-operative legislature touted by Clark and hoped for by optimistic souls around the province.