For the first time in more than a decade, British Columbia will have an NDP premier.
After a tense afternoon of politics that saw the reigning BC Liberals lose a vote of confidence in the legislature, B.C. Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon officially asked BC NDP leader John Horgan to form a minority government.
Christy Clark, who has served as premier since 2011, is now expected to resign.
"As Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, and as the representative of Her Majesty the Queen of Canada, I have met with Premier Clark and will accept her resignation," said Guichon in a statement late on Thursday evening. "I have asked Mr. Horgan to form a government, he having assured me that he can form a government which will have the confidence of the Legislative Assembly."
The result of the confidence vote Thursday afternoon was 44-42 against the BC Liberals. The NDP will form a minority government with support from the BC Green Party's three MLAs, including party leader Andrew Weaver.
Today British Columbians finally have the change they voted for. Thank you to everyone who got us here. The hard work starts now. #bcpoli— John Horgan (@jjhorgan) June 30, 2017
Horgan eager to get to work
In a brief press conference after his meeting with the lieutenant governor, Horgan said he would start putting his government together immediately. The last seven weeks since the May 9 election have been a "rollercoaster" for all British Columbians, he added, but Thursday's confidence vote proved the 'GreeNDP' alliance is strong.
"I look forward to working harder than I've ever worked before," he told reporters. "Tomorrow I'll begin putting together a government that will make British Columbia better...We can work together, not just as Greens and New Democrats, but Liberals as well, and all British Columbians."
Horgan said he assured Guichon he would do his "level best" to ensure continuity of government and flagged the fentanyl crisis, softwood lumber dispute and public education as top issues.
"It's been 16 years of challenges that have been created for many many people," he said. "Those challenges won't be fixed overnight. I want to focus as quickly as possible on putting in place a cabinet and government structure."
Horgan did not offer a timeline for having a new cabinet in place, but said he would have access to government documents this week and expected the process of a newly formed government to take place in a matter of days.
The work of government has been in limbo for almost two months since the Liberals won a minority government on May 9 with 43 members in the 87-seat legislature.
Weaver ready to collaborate
In a Thursday evening press statement, Weaver expressed his support for Premier-designate Horgan, and vowed to make good on his own election promise to "do politics differently."
"Our Confidence and Supply Agreement lays the groundwork for a new kind of collaborative, productive parliament," he said. “The B.C. Green caucus will provide stability for this new minority government by supporting confidence and supply measures. We have also agreed to collaborate on a wide range of policies that are supported by a majority of British Columbians.
"As an opposition caucus, we will collaborate with our colleagues on both sides of the house to advance good public policy that will put the interests of British Columbians first, as well as hold the government to account for their decisions and actions."
As of 9:45 p.m. local time on Thursday, Clark had not issued any public statement on the lieutenant-governor's request to have Horgan form a brand new government.
Her short-lived minority government cabinet was sworn in June 12, 2017. In a bid to remain in power, the Liberals adopted NDP and Green promises from last month’s election in this week's throne speech, including higher social assistance rates, banning corporate, union and third-party donations to political parties, spending more on childcare and increasing the carbon tax.
But the GreeNDP voted down two Liberal bills, including one that would have positioned the Greens as an official party in the legislature, calling instead for the government's removal.
On Thursday afternoon, before the confidence vote, Clark emphasized her party's record in government while going after the opposition for shutting down her party's bills.
"They never had the numbers and they never had a plan to make it work if they found themselves in power," she said minutes before the confidence vote was called. "Their only intention was to get the Greens on the dotted line and then tell us just to wait and see how they could contrive to bend the rules of our democracy so that they could hang on to power."
— with files from The Canadian Press