NEWS

B.C. Liberals face dwindling majority

02/14/2013 03:30 EST | Updated 04/16/2013 05:12 EDT
Due to a dwindling number of majority MLAs, the B.C. Liberal government could fall before the May provincial election.

For the first time in their nearly 12 years in power, the Liberals are facing a serious numbers problem. Their once healthy 13-seat majority has been reduced to just four plus the speaker, who only votes in the event of a tie.

NDP house leader John Horgan says he's been keeping an eye on the numbers of politicians currently attending the legislature. The current standings in the legislature are 45 Liberals, 36 New Democrats and four Independents.

On Wednesday, the Liberals had a two-seat majority in the legislature, with three of their members absent. Only one New Democrat, Vancouver Island's Bill Routley, is away from the legislature after suffering a heart attack.

That means the government is at risk of falling if they lose a confidence vote, for example on the budget, which is being tabled next week.

“The government needs to hold a majority in the legislature or it’s no longer the government,” said Horgan.

“On matters of confidence, nothing is more important to the functioning of the province of British Columbia than a budget and if they can’t pass one, they don’t deserve to be in government and we’ll be into an election.”

Horgan said the opposition won't hesitate to force an early election.

“It's my belief that the government has lost its legitimacy with the public,” he said.

“It's my belief that people are waiting for May anxiously, and if the government doesn't have the support of the majority of the members of the legislature then it should fall."

Government confident in numbers

Liberal House Leader Mike de Jong responded that the government is aware of its numbers issue but is certain there will be enough members in the legislature to ensure the government survives any votes.

“The government is confident that we continue to enjoy the confidence of the house. The majority is there,” he said.

However, de Jong admits their majority has gotten slim.

“That's a valid point,” he said. “The numbers are such that we have to make sure that we have sufficient numbers of people here at all times."

The biggest concerns for the Liberals are MLAs being absent for a vote or the possibility of their own members voting against them.

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