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BC NDP, poised for power, preparing for snap election

BC NDP leader John Horgan looks on as B.C. Green party leader Andrew Weaver checks the time before signing an agreement on creating a stable minority government during a press conference in the Hall of Honour at Legislature in Victoria, B.C.

CHAD HIPOLITO/THE CANADIAN PRESS

NDP Leader John Horgan says his party has continued fundraising to ensure it's ready for a potential snap election, as the New Democrats and Greens prepare to oust the minority Liberal government.

The NDP and Greens plan to defeat the B.C. government in a confidence vote after the House reconvenes on June. 22.

The two parties together command a bare majority in the legislature after the May 9 election.

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"I am concerned that perhaps [Premier Christy Clark] has another agenda that's not a transition from her administration to a new administration," Mr. Horgan told reporters on Friday when asked about the NDP appealing to donors.

"We're asking our donors, small donors, to be sure we're prepared if the worst happens and the BC Liberals force another election."

Last month, voters elected the first provincial minority government in six decades, with the Liberals winning 43 seats, one short of a majority. The NDP won 41 seats and the Greens three.

After weeks of negotiations, the Greens announced at the end of May that they would vote against the Liberals and instead support an NDP government.

In a letter to supporters this week, NDP deputy director Glen Sanford wrote that the party's MLAs are eager to get to work, "but we could face an election call in just a couple of weeks."

While Mr. Sanford wrote that the legislature reconvenes on June 22, he added that "after that, anything's possible and all bets are off." He is appealing for $5 or more "so we can be confident that we're all ready for whatever happens."

In an interview on Friday, Mr. Sanford said the New Democrats have to be prepared for all possibilities, including another election. "It is important not to take anything for granted."

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Mr. Horgan said he doesn't want another election, and doesn't expect voters want one either. That said, he added he is taking no chances ahead of the NDP-Green move to end 16 years of Liberal government in B.C.

"Until such time as that new government is formed, I am going to be anticipating the worst. I am going to be anticipating the BC Liberals wanting to force us into an election that nobody wants."

Mr. Horgan said he is wary about the Liberals' decision to wait until June 22 to call back the legislature: "I don't know what the holdup would be."

Ms. Clark has acknowledged that her government will likely lose a confidence vote in the legislature. She has also said she doesn't plan to ask the lieutenant-governor for an election and instead is prepared to serve as opposition leader.

The Liberal government's fate is expected to be determined with a vote on a Throne Speech, which will be read on June 22. But the vote will likely take place the following week.

Ms. Clark said she won't do anything to fast-track that process, adding it is important to follow conventions and rules that govern the legislature.

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The NDP Leader said he remains committed to an election promise to ban corporate and union donations and place a cap on individual donations. However, he said the party has no plans to stop taking corporate and union donations in the meantime.

The New Democrats also have not disclosed who has donated to the party during the election or in the weeks since as they prepare to topple the government and take power.

The governing agreement that the NDP and Greens signed also commits to legislation limiting parties to accepting loans only from banks or recognized financial institutions, "eliminate any other means by which individuals or entities may wield undue influence over government" and conduct a review of campaign finance and the Election Act.

The Liberals campaigned on a commitment to require the real-time disclosure of donations to political parties, that the party had begun providing. And it outlined plans for an independent Election Act Review Panel to recommend systemic improvements after reviewing proposals on political fundraising changes in B.C. and across Canada.

Documents posted to the Liberal website indicate the party deposited $338,000 in donations last week after the Greens and the NDP announced an agreement to co-operate, leading to the first provincial NDP government since 2001.

So far this year, the Liberals have raised $8.7-million, which has included contributions as large as $100,000 from property developers and other corporate donors.

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About the Author
B.C. reporter

Ian Bailey is a Vancouver-based reporter for The Globe and Mail.  He covers politics and general news. Prior to arriving at The Globe and Mail, he reported from Toronto and St. John’s for The Canadian Press.  He has also covered British Columbia for CP, The National Post and The Province. More

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