Andrea Klassen – Kamloops This Week
Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Todd Stone was looking on the bright side — the second-term MLA, who will move from cabinet minister to Opposition member when an NDP government is sworn in, can claim one of the best views of history in the making.
“The last couple weeks have been very fascinating, exciting and tremendously interesting,” Stone told KTW. “I’ve enjoyed having a front-row seat to this unique historical moment.”
The Vancouver Sun estimates it’s been 134 years since an opposition party replaced the government in power following a confidence vote, which the Liberals lost on Thursday evening.
Stone said the decision of Lt.-Gov Judith Guichon to give the NDP a chance to govern with the support of the three Green MLAs must be respected, but noted there are still obstacles in place if the new government wants to pass legislation.
“It’s going to be precarious at best, there’s no question. The numbers are tight,” he said.
While the question of the Speaker of the legislature — who by custom only votes in the event of a tie— has been much debated, there’s also the issue of committee debates. Stone said legislative custom is for MLAs to hold a committee meeting once a bill is past second reading, at which the Speaker is not present and the committee chair, always a government-side member, does not vote unless there is a tie.
“The committee stage is where MLAs from all parties debate the specific sections of a bill or the specific budgets of each ministry,” Stone said. “That’s where we get into line by line by line and questions from each member to ministers responsible for the legislation.” If both positions are held by NDP MLAs, Liberal MLAs will outnumber Green and NDP MLAs by one vote, Stone noted. “Virtually every piece of legislation could be frustrated,” he said.
Stone said he doesn’t yet know if his party will support NDP legislation, though critics accused the Liberals of borrowing portions of their most recent Speech from the Throne from the New Democrats. “We’ll make the decision whether to support legislation on a case-by-case basis,” he said.