Wanted: A Speaker for the BC Legislature commencing June, 2017

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Wanted: A Speaker for the BC Legislature commencing June, 2017

5 choices for the next speaker of the B.C. legislature




There could be trouble brewing in NDP-Green paradise





Is this the kind of trouble that occurs when you bring in a right-wing politico to represent you? 


Horgan, Weaver lash out at Christy Clark during NDP-Green press conference



voice of the damned

For the most part, I am a fan of the Westminster system. But one thing that strikes me as totally archaic is requirng the Speaker to be an MP. I mean, what sort of representation can you claim to have as a voter if you elect a person who ends up being chosen Speaker? I gather that MPs from nearby ridings can handle some of the constituency work, but still, it strikes me as a bit of a slap-in-the-face to know that you don't have anyone from your area officially representing your concerns to the House or to the government.


Good point Boyd


Opinion: Relax, B.C., there’s no need to rush into new election



Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Such talk is quite premature. We would all do well to chill a bit. There are lots of ways the current situation may yet play out. For instance, a Liberal MLA could agree to serve as speaker for an NDP government, avoiding both stalemate and a partisan speaker.

How would that avoid a partisan speaker??

A Speaker voting along partisan lines is the sort of thing that can quickly arouse a great deal of opposition from civil society, and voters don’t need to know all the details to understand when something isn’t good for democracy.

Expecting an elected MLA chosen to be Speaker to sever ties with their party and be non-partisan if they're called upon to break a tie also doesn't seem that good for democracy.  If a vote is tied, and the Speaker must break that tie, are they to flip a coin?  Or else on what grounds should they legitimately choose between "Yea" or "Nay"?

 If your riding elected the MLA who is to be the new Speaker, didn't they make a partisan choice?  How shall we inform that electorate that they didn't vote for an NDP MLA, they voted for a neutral Speaker?

As I see it, the NDP (or Greens) could appoint the speaker without penalty.  If a vote passes easily, the Speaker will be recused.  If it comes down to a tie, that Speaker can vote with the NDP/Greens.  The whole electoral outcome seems to be about the NDP/Greens having one more vote than the Libs, but even with an NDP/Green Speaker, they still do, don't they?


no. if there's a NDP/Green speaker the house is split even. the speaker would always be the tie breaking vote.


Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

That's my understanding.

The only time this could be an impediment, as I understand it, is if the Libs all showed up for a vote, but two NDP/Greens didn't, and the Lib vote would carry.  But since all NDP/Green MLAs (and Liberal MLAs) are paid to represent, I would hope that would never be a problem.


the BC Liberals are trying to portray the speaker always voting with their party to break a confidence tie as being undemocratic.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

I don't live in BC, so I've no horse in the race, but I have to suggest that if they want such a neutral speaker, they can recommend one of their own.  Or, accept whoever says "yes".


I want Raj Chouhan to become speaker He already has had experience wearing the hat as Deputy Speaker and as well he looks good, quite dashing actually in the hat

Raj knows the drill and can get the job done for John

Pogo Pogo's picture

Years since model parliament so I may be stating this wrong. On the radio someone stated that when the House breaks into the Committee of the Whole to debate business before the House, that the practice is for the speaker to leave the chamber.  Not sure if that is the case, but it sure makes the numbers game even more crazy.

Left Turn Left Turn's picture

quizzical wrote:

no. if there's a NDP/Green speaker the house is split even. the speaker would always be the tie breaking vote.


How is there anything wrong with this? (Hint: there isn't -- despite what some right-wing media pundits will claim.)


It's all good
Just a matter of playing the waiting game until the throne speech is defeated which will mean Clark and de Jong and the whole motley crew of her right-wing cronies are done


Once Horgan becomes Premier he can pass the legislation he wants in relation to the Speaker, Campaign Financing, etc but he had better move very quickly on a few of those issues, and better to get the bad news out and done with as early as possible in the term


How the B.C. Speaker should manage a messy House

Advice from former Commons Speaker Peter Milliken, who knows a thing or two about handling hung parliaments



Winning the public relations battle over speaker stalemate in BC




Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Winning the public relations battle over speaker stalemate in BC

Why are you posting this when you should know full well that the stalemate has been resolved -- and to your satisfaction, no less.


On behalf of babble, please stop this.


 Will the real Steve Thomson please stand up?

In the meantime, many voters are wondering, who is Steve Thomson, anyway?

You won’t find out by clicking on the B.C. Liberals’ information about its current MLAs. Each picture you click produces the same fitting message: “Sorry, the page you're looking for isn’t here.”

Those 43 smiling faces are all now officially dead links.

The leadership many voters were looking for just isn’t there, as that entire party is now under deconstruction.

This is what I know about Thomson, from working with him as a candidate and cabinet minister, back in 2009-10.

He is a man of impeccable honour, integrity, and capability. A more decent, likable, trustworthy, and honest man would be hard to find.

Which is to say, he is perfect—absolutely perfect—for the role he now holds, as speaker.

At 6’ 5”, he is physically imposing, but never intimidating. He is a gentle giant with brains, who commands respect with quiet confidence and the courage of his convictions—always listening, ever learning, and never shirking from acting on sound advice.

As a former executive director of the B.C. Agriculture Council, and general manager of the B.C. Fruit Growers Association and the B.C. Milk Producers Association, he is a proven expert at herding cats.

As a former member of the Canadian national rugby team, he is not afraid to knock heads, push back, or plow forward.

He is a team player, through and through. A trait that may not be such a good thing, in the current context.

Clearly, Christy Clark has put Thomson in the speaker’s chair to remain, above all, her team player.

As we all know, her game plan calls for him to quit when her government gets punted. Odds are, that is exactly what he will do, much to the united opposition’s chagrin.

Yet I am still hoping, perhaps naïvely, that the real Steve Thomson that I know will please stand up.

Not for the premier. Not for his party. And not for his personal political interest.

But rather, for what he surely knows in his heart is actually in the public interest. For what he, of all people, must know is what one would expect from a man of his stature and character, as a servant of the people and of the legislature.

If Thomson is the person I knew him to be, he will stand up for what he should know is right—and not for what his partisan colleagues deem to be politically expedient, which is so patently wrong.

He will remain as speaker, to resolve the partisan stalemate that he is uniquely positioned to achieve, in the greater interests of our province.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not arguing that Thomson is somehow bound by convention to remain as speaker for the life of this parliament. He has every right to resign whenever he wishes.

Nor am I disputing the fact that it is typically the governing party that offers one of its members to serve as speaker.

Typically, however, the legislature is not divided by a one-seat majority. In fact, it has never happened before in B.C.

It begs the question: is our system of responsible government really so irresponsible that it cannot accommodate a one-seat majority? Is a one-seat majority somehow an illegitmate majority, or any less worthy than a two-seat or larger majority?

I don’t accept that, and neither should Thomson.

I don’t accept that the principle of “majority rules” should not apply: that the 44 members who have no confidence in the current government should suck it up and agree to let the other 43 members rule the roost.

I don’t accept that the parties with over 300,000 more combined votes than the one that is now governing the province received should be disqualified from governing for lack of a speaker, neutral or not.

Nor do I accept that the solution should be to immediately have another election, as the Liberals and many political pundits want.

Cost and hassle aside, there is no guarantee that that would even produce a different result.

Besides, we already have a minority government-in-waiting that can command the support of a legislative majority.

That majority alliance could work just fine, if only Thomson would keep his speaker’s hat on and keep his Liberal robes in the closet, where he has now ostensibly hung them.

I sure don’t accept that if Thomson cannot find it within himself to play a constructive role in resolving the speaker stalemate, that the NDP should be precluded from governing, because the tie-breaking vote will necessarily fall to an NDP speaker.

If the lieutenant-governor were to ever accept that rationale as a basis for dissolving the parliament and forcing another election, without first calling on John Horgan to form a government, it truly would be a constitutional crisis.

In that event, our notional head of state would be seen by many as a partisan shill for the party she once supported. All hell would break loose, and rightly so.

It is certainly not Hon. Judith Guichon’s role to usurp the wishes of the legislative majority, by denying its elected members the opportunity to form a government, whatever that entails for the speaker’s role in legislative votes and proceedings.

True enough, Thomson is under no obligation to continue on as speaker, if he sees his first duty as being responsible to his party leader, rather than to what is reasonably demanded under the present circumstances.

The choice he makes will, in fact, forever determine the man he is, in the eyes of history. He can choose to be either the hero or the goat; a force for stability and democracy, or a gutless wonder who was unworthy of the accolades that he earned by his contributions to British Columbia.

He, alone, can avert a situation that would put needless pressure on the lieutenant governor to either dissolve the parliament, as some constitutional “experts” have suggested she should, or to “risk” asking Horgan to form a government.

He, alone, can avert the need for either an unnecessary and unwanted snap election, or for an NDP speaker, who would be necessarily cast in the role as a partisan tie-breaker, in most legislative proceedings.

He, alone, can decide whether to respect the majority’s wishes as a constructive force for stability and responsible government, or to make a bad situation worse, by taking his ball and going home, as the premier would have him do.

On the surface, the study in contrast between those two individuals couldn’t be more striking.

As her throne speech shows, she is a crass political opportunist—desperate, unprincipled, and driven by weakness.

By standing up to the premier and remaining willing to serve as speaker, Thomson would once again prove himself as her opposite. He would consolidate his reputation as a person of principle, strength, and leadership, whose dedication to public service and to his office is beyond reproach.

Thomson is a big man, at 6’ 5”.

He would be even bigger by standing tall in the face of the small-minded pressure coming from the small people in the premier’s office.

They expect him to meekly follow their discredited game plan and quit when the government loses its confidence vote. Time will tell if he allows himself to be reduced to their loathsome level.

Now, more than ever, confidence in the integrity and strength of our elected leaders is sorely needed.

Our province is deeply divided and is looking for healers and uniters—a motive that speaks to the very heart of the NDP-Green alliance led by Messieurs Horgan and Weaver.

Sadly, the mainstream media has mostly relished in baiting the speaker and the Liberals to do the wrong thing.

“Why would they help the NDP?” they ask.

Or as Andrew Coyne put it, “the Liberals are under no obligation to make it easy for them by providing a Speaker themselves. The notion being put about, that the premier is obliged not merely to accept defeat, but to help the opposition replace her…is simply ludicrous.”

No, the Liberals are under no such obligation.

Not if they don’t give a damn about making democracy work.

Not if they want to frustrate a one-seat majority.

Not if they want to either force another immediate election, or force the speaker into a partisan role that no one should want by choice, when a reasonable solution is readily available.

Not if they don’t care about sparing the lieutenant-governor from an uncomfortable predicament that now threatens to call her office and her integrity into disrepute.

Play the game, the pundits almost all say. Let’s have at it. Elbows up, as always, the more blood, the better.

For them, it’s the spectacle that matters most, regardless of who or what gets hurt along the way—the vast majority of people who voted for change, most of all.

There’s the rub: the best hope for convincing Thomson to do the right thing is moral suasion. Yet the mainstream media is doing zilch to apply that pressure.

If anything, it is doing everything in its power to set an unneeded crisis of confidence in motion.

It is apologizing for Thomson’s resignation before he has even tendered it, swayed as it is by Clark’s arguments for obstruction, by its contempt for reasoned compromise, and by its unyielding belief in oppositional politics as a winner-takes-all bloodmatch.

What a sorry indictment of our political press.

This is not rocket science. Other jurisdictions have made one-seat majorities work.

Australia is doing that right now, with long-term reforms to the speaker’s role that I have previously championed, which the United Kingdom long ago embraced.

Bernard Lord’s Conservative government in New Brunswick somehow managed to rule with a one-seat majority for three years, back in 2003.

If the new Liberal minority only had a shred of interest in letting Thomson make the contribution he might for the good of the province, a one-seat majority would work well enough as well for B.C.

In rugby, tries are scored by grounding the ball in the opposition's “in-goal” area.

As a rugby aficionado, Thomson can score big time with a little trying.

He just needs to keep the big picture in mind and never forget who most people in the crowd are really cheering for.

They want him to succeed by being bigger, better, and bolder than his teammates ever imagined.

They want him to help move the game forward, not backward, to help the majority alliance get on with the hard business of governing.

I know that Thomson’s capable of doing that, if he can only find the strength to get beyond the ones in his angry scrum, who would have him lower himself to wallow with them in the muck.

Will the real Steve Thomson please stand up? I’d like to think so, but I wouldn’t bet on it.


Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

I used to be able to spot a Joe Warmington column a mile away when every single sentence, even a sentence of three words, was its own paragraph.

It's loopy.

And I don't support it.

Because I don't own stock.

In white space.

Anyway, would it suffice to quote a few salient paragraphs of someone else's work, rather than the entire work start to finish?

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

OK...I'm officially confused-if a Liberal has been elected speaker, why are there posts here implying the speaker deadlock hasn't been resolved?


I would go after Ralph Sultan as he is no friend of Clark


NorthReport wrote:
I would go after Ralph Sultan as he is no friend of Clark

84 year old Ralph Sultan.  Not a long term solution.

Pogo Pogo's picture

Take away the ideology filter and we have one party preparing for opposition where it is their duty to oppose. I think other than scoring points among basically uniformed or partisans this is going to play out along party lines. 

Pogo Pogo's picture

 The next game is going to be watching CC struggle to save her job.  I would assume there is the implicit threat that if she loses the leadership, she may quit as MLA.