Speaker Steve Thomson has tricky procedural questions to consider during his first, and possibly only, week on the job. (Hansard TV)

UPDATE: B.C. Liberals question NDP’s ability to to govern

NDP’s Mike Farnworth calls Mike de Jong’s request ‘insulting’

The uniquely close result of the May election leaves the NDP-Green alliance without the ability to pass legislation under the normal rules of the legislature, B.C. Liberal house leader Mike de Jong says.

In a letter to newly elected speaker Steve Thomson, de Jong details the restrictions on the speaker to break tie votes, which he says make it all but impossible to pass legislation.

“I think it’s going to be very, very difficult,” de Jong told reporters after tabling his letter in the legislature Tuesday. “I think the workability of a reconfigured parliament with an NDP-Green government, based on the numbers, is going to be challenging.”

De Jong asks Thomson to rule on two procedural points before the vote of non-confidence in the B.C. Liberal throne speech, expected Thursday afternoon, where the government expects to be defeated and replaced by the opposition parties.

NDP house leader Mike Farnworth said he received no notice of the four-page letter, and it appears to be the latest attempt by the B.C. Liberals to avoid losing power to the NDP and Greens. He wrote his own letter to Thomson, reminding the rookie speaker that the questions raised by de Jong are up to Lt. Gov. Judith Guichon to answer.

“[de Jong] has asked you to pre-empt the Lieutenant Governor’s deliberative process by providing what amounts to constitutional legal advice to the legislature, based on the insulting proposition that members are not able to collect and process their own information on this matter,” Farnworth wrote.

Farnworth told reporters the NDP-Green alliance can manage the legislature without changing the rules of order, one of the times where de Jong says any speaker is obliged to vote against in the event of a tie. The other problem raised by de Jong is having an NDP speaker do double duty and preside over the committee stage of legislation, rather than appoint a committee chair and lose a second voting MLA to approve legislation at that stage.

De Jong said he does not intend to signal to the Lieutenant Governor that a new election should be called, but only to inform all MLAs of the situation they face.