Roundup: Holding BC’s horses

The fact that the BC NDP and the provincial Green party has come to a “confidence agreement” has everyone buzzing about what could possibly happen in that province, and whether it spells the end of the BC Liberals’ long reign, and the obligation on the province’s Lieutenant Governor. But because most people – including most of the journalists covering this story – don’t have a clue about government formation in our Westminster system, let me offer a few pointers.

The first point is right now, this agreement changes nothing. Clark is still the premier and has not resigned. The LG can’t simply dismiss her because there is a potentially viable alternate government with an added extra seat in the wings. It doesn’t work that way. All that this changes is that if Clark tests the confidence of the legislature and loses, the LG has an added option to consider when it comes to whether or not to grant dissolution and a new election. While yes, there is this agreement, the LG will also have to consider the stability of an alternate government and you’ll forgive me if I treat the promise of a four-year agreement on the Green supporting supply and confidence votes to be dubious at best.

Why? Because this is politics. First of all, the difference in seats is so slight that once the Speaker is taken into consideration, there may not be an appreciable difference in stability. MLAs will have to have perfect voting attendance lest the government fall on bad math or the inability to come to some kind of “gentleman’s agreement” on paired votes when MLAs are forced to be absent. And let’s face it – the Greens will only abide by this agreement so long as it suits them, and this being politics, the thirst for more influence comes quickly. How long before they decide they don’t like the other items on the NDP agenda? Before they have a personality clash with the NDP leader (which the Green leader made a big deal about during the election campaign, despite their big smiles during their press conference yesterday). How long before the NDP tires of Green demands? The agreement is a political promise, and is easily broken for the sake of politics. The LG likely knows this and would be advised to take the “four year” promise with a shaker full of salt.

It’s also notable that the two parties didn’t enter into a coalition agreement, which is part of what makes stability a real issue. The Greens were unlikely to want to be in a genuine coalition because of the issue of needing to adhere to cabinet solidary (and secrecy). They probably feel that they can throw their weight around more when they can public threaten to hold their breath until their “partners” accede to their demands, and this is significant for the sake of stability, despite the protestations that they want to make this work as a test case for proportional representation (even though PR generally necessitates actual coalitions).

And let’s not forget that Christy Clark is a formidable retail politician, and what’s going to matter is how she sells defeat or a request for dissolution. The narrative she builds will matter in the end, and we can’t underestimate that.

Good reads:

  • Following his meeting at the Vatican, Justin Trudeau said that the Pope sounded open to offering an apology to residential school survivors.
  • Here’s a look at the schedule for NAFTA renegotiation talks once they start in August.
  • The government extended our naval contributions to anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia for another four years.
  • Groups being consulted over lifetime pensions for disabled veterans warned the government about the plans to offer the “option” of such a payment.
  • NDP leadership candidate Niki Ashton says she’s expecting in November, but will press on with her campaign regardless.
  • In the aftermath of Scheer’s win, one Conservative put out an odd release saying he felt Raitt should have won, but he still supported Scheer.
  • Althia Raj notes signs of discord in Conservative ranks after Scheer’s victory, despite the constant protestations of unity.
  • The Star crunched some leadership vote data to show which regions of the country responded more to which kind of candidates.
  • Popular vote figures provided to CBC’s Éric Grenier show that Scheer had a wider margin of victory over Bernier once the point system distortions were removed.
  • Anti-abortion groups across the country are praising Scheer’s win based on his “perfect” social conservative voting record.
  • Andrew Scheer’s campaign manager is also a director for Ezra Levant’s The Rebel website.
  • Here’s a look at the tactics of the Liberal “observers” at the Conservative convention.
  • Kady O’Malley notes the social conservative issues that Scheer has thus far remained vague on, allowing the Liberals to define him instead.
  • Chantal Hébert wonders how Scheer will manage his Maxime Bernier problem while also trying to build bridges in Quebec.
  • Martin Patriquin contends that Scheer will betray the social conservatives in the ranks as Stephen Harper did.
  • Colby Cosh maps out how Scheer’s decision as Speaker four years ago to give power to backbenchers to “catch his eye” started his rise to power.
  • Robyn Urback wonders about Kellie Leitch’s comeback chances considering that she has already used up her lifetime supply of tearful apologies.

Odds and ends:

John Fraser explains how with Trump, the Americans ended up electing another George III thanks to their sclerotic constitution.

Public service charity donations are down almost 15 percent, possibly as a result of Phoenix pay system disruption.