The Liberals, in power since 2001, were projected to be ahead in 43 districts, and the NDP in 41 — both short of a majority in the province’s 87 seats, according to preliminary results tabulated by CBC. The Green Party led in 3 districts, headed for potentially its best performance ever.
B.C., the Pacific Coast province that boasts Canada’s fastest-growing economy, hasn’t seen a party govern with a minority of the seats in parliament in more than 60 years. The possibility that the Liberals or NDP may seek the support of the Greens to form a coalition could cloud the outlook for projects like Kinder Morgan Inc.’s Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion and Petroliam Nasional Bhd’s proposed $27 billion project to export natural gas to Asia.
The results mark new territory for the Green Party, which has never had more than a single member elected to a Canadian legislature. In B.C., the party got a campaign bus for the first time in this election.
Its leader, Andrew Weaver, a Cambridge-trained climate scientist who left an accomplished academic career to become a politician, had refused before the election to say which party he would support in a potential minority government. “Neither of them can be trusted with a majority government,” he told Global News in an interview days before the poll.
The Green Party and NDP share similar ideas in some areas — such as opposition to Kinder Morgan’s pipeline, raising carbon taxes, and taxing housing speculators. But Weaver has also hinted that on economic issues his party sides with the Liberals.
“On the economic plan, I think we’re closer to the Liberals than the NDP,” he told Global TV.
Weaver also said there was one thing he wouldn’t compromise on — any party seeking Green support would have to ban corporate and union contributions to political parties. In a country where most provinces limit donations to a few thousand dollars per donor, this year’s campaign in British Columbia stirred controversy, with both the Liberals and NDP receiving contributions of tens of thousands of dollars.
A Liberal victory is broadly seen as more friendly for business. Under the watch of Clark, a former radio host who has led for six years, B.C. topped Canadian growth for the second consecutive year in 2016 and also led in job creation. Clark’s government has posted a budget surplus for five consecutive years, making her province the only one in Canada with a AAA debt rating.
In the birthplace of Greenpeace, her government faced down fierce environmental opposition to approve in January the expansion of a Kinder Morgan pipeline that will allow Canada to ship crude to new markets. She has also vocally backed the development of liquefied natural gas — an industry Weaver has dismissed as “nonsense” and a “colossal failure.”