Leader John Horgan and NDP MLAs emerge from the legislature chamber to take questions after taking oath of office Thursday, June 8. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)

Donaldson sworn in, Liberals appoint cabinet

VIDEO: Stikine NDP MLA Doug Donaldson sworn in for third term after NDP deal with Greens to govern.

Stikine MLA Doug Donaldson was sworn in for his third term on June 8.

The BC NDP member is looking forward to his first turn in government after a deal was struck between his party and the BC Green Party. That deal did not have LNG as a point of contention, according to Donaldson.

The BC Liberals also took their oaths of office last Thursday. A new session is scheduled to start on June 22 with the expectation that the minority governing Liberals will be defeated by the NDP and Greens on the Throne speech soon after, though questions around the position of Speaker – normally a non-political MLA appointment who only votes to break ties – are still swirling.

The May election ended with 43 BC Liberal seats, 41 NDP seats and three for the Greens.

Premier Christy Clark appointed a cabinet Monday, June 12.

She said the new priorities will be acted upon if and when the B.C. Liberals govern again.

Clark appointed Vancouver-False Creek MLA Sam Sullivan as minister responsible for communities and Translink, and he immediately announced that the government will move quickly to “scrap” the requirement that Metro Vancouver have a referendum on future transit expansions.

Sullivan replaces Peter Fassbender, one of the Lower Mainland B.C. Liberal MLAs defeated in the May 9 election. A former Vancouver mayor who once beat out Clark for that job, Sullivan said he’s pleased to see mayors’ proposals such as broader Metro Vancouver road pricing, a regional carbon tax and other ideas to fund road and transit needs.

“I am thrilled to see the innovative thinking going on,” Sullivan said. “Of course, selling it to different constituencies is another story.”

Other newcomers to the B.C. Liberal cabinet include Skeena MLA Ellis Ross, who takes over responsibility for natural gas development. A former chief of the Haisla Nation, Ross advocated liquefied natural gas export from his Kitimat-area community before running provincially.

Former TV reporter Jas Johal did a stint representing the B.C. LNG Alliance before winning the new seat of Richmond-Queensboro for the B.C. Liberals May 9. He takes over as minister of technology, innovation and citizens’ services, replacing Amrik Virk, another Metro Vancouver cabinet minister defeated by an NDP challenger May 9.

Second-term West Vancouver-Sea to Sky MLA Jordan Sturdy takes over as environment minister.

Cabinet veteran Rich Coleman moves from natural gas to energy and mines, replacing the retired Bill Bennett. Langley MLA Mary Polak moves from environment to health, replacing the retired Terry Lake, and former speaker Linda Reid goes back to cabinet in charge of advanced education.

Vancouver-Quilchena MLA Andrew Wilkinson is appointed justice minister, replacing Suzanne Anton, who was defeated by the NDP’s George Chow in Vancouver-Fraserview.

NDP leader John Horgan says he’s willing to meet with Premier Christy Clark on the transition to a new minority government, which he said is being “delayed unduly” while the B.C. Liberals reconvene the legislature.

Clark said last Thursday decisions need to be made this month on permits and other pressing issues for the Site C hydroelectric dam and the Trans Mountain oil pipeline expansion, two multi-billion-dollar projects that have been caught up in the lengthy uncertainty following the near-tie in the May 9 B.C. election.

The earliest date for a non-confidence vote is likely to be June 29. If the B.C. Liberal government is defeated then, Horgan would have to choose a cabinet and have ministers sworn in before action could be taken.

Clark said the final decision on transfer of power to an NDP-Green alliance is up to Lt. Gov. Judith Guichon, who could choose to call another election to break an almost deadlocked legislature.

Clark declined to comment on whether the B.C. Liberals will appoint a speaker from their 43 MLAs. She said co-operation between the B.C. Liberals and NDP is not likely, either in selecting a speaker or presenting a throne speech, where government lays out its priorities and the opposition has its first chance to defeat the government in a confidence vote.

B.C. Liberal house leader Mike de Jong said there are clear traditions to follow.

“If there is to be a transition, and it appears that is likely, there is a correct and proper way for that to happen,” de Jong said. “The responsibility falls to the party that wishes to govern to ensure there is someone in the [speaker’s] chair.”

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