Here’s a challenge for all you politico-gamesters out there.  How will the N-Dee-Greens deal with selecting a Speaker of the Legislative Assembly?  It’s mandatory to have one; it must be a sitting MLA; and Speakers are traditionally (not legally) non-partisan. And if an N-Dee-Green MLA, reduces the comparative numbers to 43-43.

Previous Speaker Linda Reid

The Speaker is usually not a prominent player, but might be in this barely stable Gov’t. Just as each and every vote by each and every MLA becomes fundamentally important.
And maybe there are a few lessons here:

The Speaker has been part of the British parliamentary system since 1377. The first person to be called “the Speaker” was Sir Thomas Hungerford. In the beginning, the Speaker was responsible for carrying messages, often complaints or grievances, from the people’s representatives to the King or Queen. This explains the title of “Speaker”  the one person empowered to speak to the monarch on behalf of Parliament.
At the time, the Speaker advised Parliament of the monarch’s wishes and conveyed to the monarch Parliament’s response. This was a potentially hazardous profession. The monarch was apt to express his displeasure at Parliament’s reply by putting the Speaker to death. History records at least nine such cases.
This rather bloody and dangerous past explains why a Speaker, upon election, will pretend to be reluctant to take the Speaker’s chair and must be dragged to the front of the Chamber.

So much fun.  So many wheels turning within wheels.
As an aside, I wonder if MLA’s are already picking prospective “twins” from the opposite side of the Legislature, so that they can manage absences by informally arranging such absences to coincide.


  1. Obviously the Libs cannot form a government with 43 vs 44 total members, especially if a speaker is chosen from the Lib side, except by the beneficence of the opposition on a policy by policy basis.
    It is feasible for an NDP-Green government to function even with a speaker from their side. Voting results would be potentially often deadlocked at 43-43 with only the speaker breaking the tie. Tie-breaking will become the order of the day.
    During this time an MLA will not be there to vote for whatever reason. If that member is on the Lib side, then no worries for the NDP-Gs. That reason will have to be a lot more serious than just taking a mental health day, getting the sniffles, or succumbing to frustrated backbencher syndrome and voting with their absence. Discipline and vitamins will be the order of the day on both sides.
    If a member becomes absent on the ruling side during a crucial confidence or finance vote, then the government will fall. The LG will probably call another election rather than go back to the Libs. This is probably what Christy Clark wants. There are few other reasons why she didn’t resign after failing to take responsibility for the losses the Libs had. Vaughn Palmer said that it would be delusional for Clark to continue pretending she can continue. I have another word for it: Opportunism.
    There is the little fact that the NDP-Gs have negotiated a 4-year agreement that stretches to 10 pages. The agreement is effective only to the next election, so if that election is in a few weeks or months, it’s anybody’s guess how they will act (together or independently) on an official basis. But striking this agreement indicates not just chutzpah, but the act of planning, and it shouldn’t be too surprising if the two parties have already discussed the possibility of another election and mapped out in discussions how to work together during the campaign. They already have over 57% of the combined popular vote; the results could be similar if they struck a united front and stopped competing with each other.
    Here’s the only link to the agreement I could find in limited time:
    Another possibility may exist, but I’m not sure if it applies to BC. One of the many controversial acts by Stephen Harper was to appoint an unelected citizen to the federal cabinet. There were howls of outrage, but it was technically. That citizen was Maxime Bernier, the fellow who came very close to the Conservative leadership last weekend. If either side of the BC Legislature found one or two private citizens they could slip into their caucus, let alone into a powerful cabinet position, then I’m sure they’ll do it if the leader is that opportunistic enough. I’m also sure that the voters will punish any party that pulls this fast one on them.

    1. I forgot to mention that Horgan has already floated a name for the speaker’s chair: Sam Sullivan.
      Let the spluttering begin.

      1. It would be a nice way for Sullivan to take one more dig at Christy. She’s basically ignored him for four years. I was surprised he didn’t cross the floor to the Greens, I can’t see how his urban interests fit with the BC Liberals, even less so that it became yet more of a rural party this last vote.

  2. I’ve thought a bit about this. My take is that in convening the new Legislature in June as government, the Libs would have responsibility for supplying a speaker from their ranks. A speaker is usually elected for a legislative term (1917-1921 in this case). The Greens-NDP might thus form a government and leave the Lib speaker in place. Sam would be a good candidate and a good Lib for selection as speaker, and it seems the ‘coalition’ has the numbers to get it to happen later this month before the change in government.

    1. That’s a good point. Being speaker will also give Sam a profile — albeit neutral — that he didn’t have as a backbencher. He may agree because a higher profile will increase his chances of re-election in a scenario where either the NDP or Greens may not run competing candidate in Sam’s riding.

    2. I suspect that whichever Liberal MLA is elected speaker will be expected to resign upon the defeat of the government or face the wrath of their caucus and be denied the Liberal nomination in the next election.

      1. The way of the Libs is to pay someone to vacate their seat / riding. It was surmised that Art Cowie agreed to a “fee” paid by the party to leave his seat for a fellow named Gordon Campbell way back when (needs to be confirmed).
        On the other hand, my understanding is that the speaker must be voted in. The NDP-Gs may not approve someone who is in a safe Lib riding, which will make the selection of speaker contentious.
        It’s a big understatement to say this situation is unprecedented.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *