An active Official Opposition is important for democracy. Even if you support the party in power it’s important to have an opposition to keep them on their toes.
Premier Horgan’s NDP government hasn’t had much opposition since the election. The leaderless BC Liberal Party has been weak and the BC Greens have been ineffective.
That could change. But how quickly it changes is up to Premier Horgan.
Kevin Falcon is the new leader of theBC Liberal Party. But he’s has been sitting in the back rows of the Legislature because he is not an elected MP.
Former leader Andrew Wilkinson announced he’ll give up his seat to make room for Falcon. That would force a by-election, and Premier Horgan would have six months to call one.
In the past, there’s been a wink-wink understanding in situations like these. Parties go easy on the new leader to make it easier for them to take over. It’s seen as fair play. That’s why some of the parties chose not to run a candidate in the by-election in Burnaby so that Jagmeet Singh could win his seat when he became leader of the federal NDP.
But it’s a choice, not a rule. So sometimes, if they want to be nasty, parties ignore the agreement and run candidates to stick it to their opponents.
There is a history of similar nastiness in BC.
Back in 2001, the BC NDP was in a shambles. They had just been wiped out in the election. They went from being the party in power to having two seats. At the time, the rules said parties needed to have four seats to get the funding, staffing, and other supports that come with official party status.
Then BC Premier Gordon Campbell, leader of the BC Liberals, decided to be nasty. He denied the NDP official party status. Even people who liked Gordon Campbell said he was acting like a bully.
Since then, the rules have been changed in BC and parties only need two seats.
But around the same time, Alberta Premiers Ralph Klein and Ed Stelmach were more sportsman-like. They were both Progressive Conservatives, and they let the Alberta NDP have official party status after the 1997, 2001, and 2008 elections even though the NDP didn’t have the minimum number of seats.
So the question is this: will John Horgan be mean like Gordon Campbell or more charitable like past premiers in Alberta?
Will he call a by-election as soon as possible or will he make Falcon chill out in the back bench of the Legislature?
Will he act quickly to make sure the Official Opposition can do its job and keep our democracy healthy? Or will he try to keep his advantage for as long as possible?
The clock is ticking!
What do you think he will do?