Andrew Weaver makes case for why B.C. Liberal speaker must not resign after nonconfidence vote

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      The leader of the B.C. Greens claimed that the B.C. Liberals would be playing a "partisan game" if they insist that the legislature speaker resigns following any nonconfidence vote.

      In an essay on his website, Andrew Weaver points out that a former elected House of Commons speaker, Peter Milliken, did not resign as control shifted from a Liberal majority to a Liberal minority to a Conservative minority between 2001 and 2011.

      Weaver also notes that following the 1925 federal election in which the Liberals were reduced to a minority, the speaker was reelected.

      This precipitated the famous King-Byng affair. The governor general, Lord Julian Byng, refused to dissolve parliament when the prime minister, Mackenzie King, asked for an election to be called. Instead, the governor general allowed the Conservative leader, Arthur Meighen, to form a government.

      "What’s important about this so-called King-Byng affair was that during this entire time, Rodolphe Lemieux remained Speaker of the House," Weaver writes. "In fact he remained in this position until 1930. As the government changed from a Liberal majority, to a  Liberal minority to a Conservative-Liberal minority and then back to Liberal majority."

      Weaver also cites B.C.'s Constitution Act, which states that on its first meeting, the legislative assembly must elect a speaker.

      This is what subsection 2 states: On being confirmed by the Lieutenant Governor, the election of a Speaker under subsection (1) is effective until the general voting day for the next general election, or until the Speaker dies, resigns the office by writing addressed to the Lieutenant Governor, or ceases to be a member of the Legislative Assembly.

      Weaver argues that it would "be deemed highly unusual and totally inappropriate for a speaker elected next week to suddenly resign after a throne speech confidence vote failed".

      "I reiterate that a speaker is elected until the next election and does not arbitrarily resign because he or she desires to play partisan political games," he states. "Resignation typically only occurs when scandals erupt like in the UK in 2009 or Australia earlier this year, due to illness, or in a case where the Speaker is moving to take up a cabinet position.

      "In fact this was the case in all prior Speakers resignations from the BC Legislature that I have looked into: Dean Smith (Social Credit; 1976–1978), Harvey Schroeder (Social Credit; 1979–1982), John Reynolds (Social Credit) (1987–1989), Joan Sawicki (NDP; 1992–1994), Laurence Dale Lovick (NDP; 1996–1998) and Gretchen Mann Brewin (NDP; 1998–2000)," Weaver adds.

      He concludes his essay by saying the premier must give British Columbians the certainty that they deserve.

      "It’s time for us to start addressing the many issues facing British Columbians on a daily basis. It’s time for all of us to offer respect to the electorate."