Throne speech could be the beginning of the end for Liberals

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – It has sounded more like another election campaign than a return to the Legislature as BC’s minority Liberal government gets set to head back to Victoria today facing the prospect of losing a confidence vote as early as next week.

This afternoon’s throne speech is expected to offer up progressive reforms from Premier Christy Clark’s party, with hints and leaks already focusing on issues like minimum wage, childcare and campaign finance reform.

“The strategy is to make it difficult for the NDP-Green group to easily vote against it,” says Professor Allan Tupper, former head of the Political Science Department at UBC.

“In other words, if the Liberals are going to be defeated, they will put some costs on the people willing to defeat them.”
But Tupper suggests Clark’s party needs to walk a fine line.

“It’s got to be within limits for the Liberals. It can’t be radical variations from things they have said they wouldn’t do. It has to be reasonably costed to show evidence they are affordable. But on the other hand, they also need to say they’ve heard the message from voters and there are areas of weakness in what they were doing,” he tells NEWS 1130.

John Redekop, a professor emeritus at Wilfred Laurier University expects the throne speech will include elements lifted directly from the NDP and Green Party election platforms.

“The Liberal government, very astutely, will bring in legislation which the Greens at least — and maybe the NDP, as well — will have to support. In doing this, the Liberals will attempt to convince the public that they will introduce items the

Opposition can support if they are given the chance to do so,” says Redekop.

“It’s a clever ploy, but I doubt it will work.”

Redekop strongly believes next week’s confidence vote will end in defeat for the Liberals, paving the way for the NDP-Green alliance to take power, but Tupper doesn’t expect the razor-thin margins in the balance of power to lead to a snap election. At least not yet.

“I’m sceptical we would go back to the polls as early as late summer or fall. It’s dependent on what the parties think their activist bases can give them and what sort of capacity they have to run another campaign so soon,” he says.

“That said, it’s difficult to conceive a government lasting long in these circumstances, whatever forms of government we see in the next few years. The Legislature is just so tight.”

The BC Liberal minority heads to the legislature today with 43 seats, while the NDP-Green Alliance holds a total of 44 and has agreed to vote against Clark’s government in an upcoming confidence vote.

That would end 16 years of Liberal rule in the province and set the stage for the first coalition-style government to take power in Victoria since the 1940s.

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