It hasn’t been politics as usual in British Columbia, and it shouldn’t be.
An incoming NDP government needs to take care that it’s as collaborative and representative as voters seemed to want.
The question of B.C.’s next government wasn’t answered on election night in mid-May and the situation unfolded in some expected and unexpected ways during June. The outcome returned by the electorate was so rare that it had political scientists recalling the 1950s for the most recent minority government in B.C., or looking to the example of New Brunswick in 2003, the last time a provincial legislature was so closely split.
It’s now July and while there is still a measure of uncertainty surrounding what’s ahead for B.C., at least some clarity is coming to the legislature.
The lieutenant-governor has decided to allow NDP leader John Horgan a chance to govern the province based on the promised support his party has received from B.C.’s three Green Party MLAs.
It’s a different kind of government and it should work differently. The first-past-the-post system has a way of delivering majority mandates and politics as usual. That didn’t happen this time in B.C. and while there was some chance and circumstance involved, it’s provided an opportunity, we hope.
Parties with a majority tend to govern like they have a majority after winning power with a plurality. It will be interesting to watch how the NDP will govern, rewarded after essentially a runner-up finish at the polls. Passing various pieces of legislation, we expect, will be a tight squeeze sometimes, and it should be. Our next government, in providing leadership for all British Columbians, should recognize divisions. Yes, it should offer new ideas that many voted for, but at the same time govern with a humility that the seat count seems to demand.
It’s not enough just to make government work. That government should look for ways to build consensus, co-operate and make it work for everyone.