The B.C. political situation took another strange turn today when B.C. Liberal House Leader Mike de Jong sought the speaker's view on breaking ties in legislature votes.
De Jong wanted the speaker, B.C. Liberal MLA Steve Thomson, to issue a statement "clarifying any ambiguity or confusion that may exist regarding our Standing Orders".
Specifically, de Jong maintained that "basic and longstanding parliamentary principles would logically lead" to the speaker being obliged to vote against a bill in the event of a tie.
He also claimed that the speaker should leave an amendment to a bill in its existing form when casting a deciding vote.
"I believe that each duly elected member would benefit greatly from receiving a clear and authoritative description of the rules and precedents that would guide a Speaker in the exercise of his/her responsibilities in each of the circumstances outlined above," de Jong wrote.
The letter elicited a sharp reaction from NDP Leader John Horgan.
"Even after an overwhelming majority of British Columbians rejected her, Christy Clark has spent weeks putting up delays and distractions to cling to power. But her self-interested games have failed one after another," Horgan said in a statement. “That's why earlier this morning, she launched a final desperate attempt to throw British Columbians into another election."
Horgan added: “British Columbians don't want an election. They expect their votes to be respected and for their MLAs to work together."
B.C. Green Leader Andrew Weaver, meanwhile, accused the B.C. Liberal government of continuing to "play games in an attempt to hold onto power".
"The conventions are clear," Weaver said in a statement. "If the B.C. Liberals lose the confidence vote, then the Lieutenant Governor should first see if another party can form government and gain the confidence of the house before going to an election."
This morning on CBC Radio, UBC political scientist Richard Johnston predicted that Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon would invite Horgan to form a government after the NDP and Greens defeat the B.C. Liberals in a nonconfidence motion. Johnston suggested that to do otherwise risked lowering the already thin legitimacy of Guichon's office.