With the recounts done, and British Columbia embarking on its first minority government since 1952, attention is riveted on whether Andrew Weaver’s Green Party caucus will support Christy Clark’s Liberals or John Horgan’s New Democrats to form the next provincial government—and what that decision will mean for projects like Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
While fossil promoters say there’s no pathway for a new provincial government to block the intensely controversial project, “there’s no question that B.C. has tools in its toolbox, which it has not yet used and that it should use,” Jessica Clogg, executive director and senior counsel at West Coast Environmental Law, told DeSmog Canada.
The final seat count in the legislature is 43 Liberals, 41 New Democrats, and three Greens, after absentee ballots padded the NDP’s razor-thin lead in the riding of Courtenay-Comox to 189 votes.
“Sitting in Courtenay today, I can tell you that Margaret Mead was 100% right” with her famous observation that small groups of citizens can change the world, wrote Dogwood Institute field organizer Will Cole-Hamilton. “A roomful of people—the team I help to organize—may have just stopped Big Money from buying another majority government in B.C.”
CBC reports that the Greens have been in talks with the NDP, with Weaver promising a course of action by net Wednesday. ““It’s important to give British Columbians some sense of certainty. That is our goal,” he said. “We recognize that British Columbians have put a burden of responsibility on us to do the right thing, and we take that seriously.”
Horgan said earlier this week he was “optimistic we’ll be able to put forward a framework that has a majority of the support in the legislature.” While “we don’t have that today,” he added, “we don’t want to be too hasty. We want to make sure we get this right…we’ve had productive discussions, and we have more planned.”
Clark, meanwhile, made her own pitch to pick up where her previous majority government left off. “With 43 B.C. Liberal candidates elected as MLAs, and a plurality in the legislature, we have a responsibility to move forward and form a government,” she said. “The final result reinforces that British Columbians want us to work together, across party lines, to get things done for them.”
But Weaver retorted that, “actually, the premier erred in that statement. The premier has a responsibility to ensure she gains the confidence of the house to form government,” and “we have not tested the confidence of the house yet.”
While the parties negotiate, Weaver is already on record in a Globe and Mail op ed, affirming that it would be a “triumph of democracy” if B.C. gave Kinder Morgan another look. “If we care about the integrity of democracy, we are honour-bound to reconsider the Trans Mountain decision,” he wrote. “Federalism doesn’t mean that one province gets to tread on the rights and threaten the environment of another.”
DeSmog notes that the uncertainty has already created new jeopardy for Kinder Morgan’s already-beleaguered public share offering. “The really close B.C. election vote puts pressure on the Kinder Morgan IPO,” said CMC Markets Chief Market Strategist Colin Cieszynski. “You run the danger of the whole thing getting stalled for years or going into limbo.”
Correspondent James Wilt lists three ways B.C. could stop the project: by conducting its own environmental assessment, bringing in new legislation, or waiting for the array of legal challenges already facing the pipeline to play out.
The Pembina Institute, meanwhile, pointed to the “critical opportunity” for the three political parties to “work together to secure B.C.’s economic future in the rapidly evolving global marketplace.” It urged the leaders to adopt five priorities: a strong cleantech sector, competitiveness in a changing global economy, making “clean choices” more affordable, creating healthy, safe communities, and expanding sustainable resource sector jobs.
“The global energy landscape is changing rapidly,” said B.C. Director Josha MacNab. “Now is the time to ensure B.C.’s economy is future-proofed and our communities will be safe and affordable.”