B.C. politics – a real Laurel and Hardy act

“Another fine mess you’ve gotten me into…”

Thinking about British Columbia voters and last month’s provincial election brings to mind the classic comedy team of Laurel and Hardy, with Stan representing non-voting adults and Ollie, as a voter, berating Stan for “another fine mess you’ve gotten me into…”

Elections BC says voter turnout was about 60 per cent, up three percent from the 57 per cent who voted in 2013. There’s simply no telling whether another 20 per cent in turnout would have made much difference … and Ollie and B.C. could still be faced with an upcoming train wreck.

At time of writing, “a fine mess” is exactly what we have in B.C. with the province facing a potential flip turnover of government coming from the very first vote of confidence when Premier Christy Clark calls the next session of the provincial legislature, likely later this month.

It also appears that NDP leader John Horgan and his new “partners in coalition,” the three elected members of the B.C. Green Party, including its leader Andrew Weaver, will need to remain patient and await the arrival of predicted confidence events in the house in Victoria falling apart – thus leading to their sharing power as the first non-Liberal government in 16 years.

From their expressions when announcing an agreement to join forces, both leaders seem to be desperately savouring the prospect.

If it happens, British Columbians will no doubt find that while the four-year agreement released by the NDP and Greens last Tuesday includes explicit commitments to “employ every tool available… to stop the expansion of the Kinder Morgan pipeline”, and other elements from increasing the carbon tax by $5 per tonne per year starting in April 2018, and plans for a $15 minimum wage, it still leaves many other important questions unanswered.

A good number of those are of extreme interest to local voters in Kitimat, Terrace and Prince Rupert, where LNG projects remain pulsing and creeping limpingly-slowly forward – but would then face a very uncertain conclusion.

No part of the agreement covers the two parties’ position on the possible future fate of north coast LNG projects, in the west, or the Site C dam in the east.

With our local economy staggering, our region could use some positive finality.

Home prices are slumbering or dropping, pubs and restaurants empty and people are leaving in droves looking for work.

Empty hotels and moonscape sites show everything is marking time. Taxes are up…

And the “fine mess” will likely remain focused on the oil pipeline to Burnaby for a long time, leaving the northern economy in this horrible slump.

But Weaver’s Greens are already under the gun, with the commitment to not defeat a potential NDP government for four years, so they’ll be required to support NDP decisions on all major items.

But it’s a numbers game, even if the NDP-Green bloc forms government is equally complicated and there’s still a very good chance that a new election may be the governor-general’s only option.

Seems more likely that the Liberals will lose in an early budget vote of confidence – but so could the “coalition” which Weaver prefers to call an “alliance”.

Then there are so many other potential elements that could upset everybody’s apple cart, deaths, resignations, floor-crossings – even personal scandals are great fodder in B.C.

So unpredictable – so fascinating – so vital to northern communities.