There's a lot to take away from the Nanaimo byelection that captured public attention across the country.
It’s true that Premier John Horgan dodged a bullet had the popular 34-year-old Tony Harris won the seat for the B.C. Liberals. A loss by the NDP would have resulted in a tie vote at the Legislature, which by all accounts would have spelled the end of a highly fragile minority government. But does this mean everyone can breathe a sigh of relief until the next general election scheduled for October 16, 2021?
Well, we're just a week away from a new spring session of the Legislature, yet a lot has changed since last fall. The outright rejection of proportional representation by more than 61% of voters in December was the one big-ticket item that convinced Andrew Weaver and the Green Party to sign onto a power-sharing agreement with the NDP back in July 2017.
Since then, the Greens have been forced to cave into every major policy decision imposed by their senior NDP partners — from Site C to LNG.
With not even one single policy win for the Greens to call their own, this probably explains the grim collapse of the Green vote from 20% in 2017 to a mere 7% last Wednesday in Nanaimo.
Considering Nanaimo is less than a two-hour drive from the Green Party bastion located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, there is cause for concern by supporters. Just days before the byelection, Weaver threatened the NDP with a tweet saying “an NDP win by no means ensures the BC Green Party will continue to prop them up.”
Sure, Weaver has huffed and puffed many times in the past, but he has never followed through on his threat to blow the house down. But, just last week, Weaver announced that all three Green MLAs will be stepping down from most of their legislative committees in order to concentrate on their own agenda.
Faced with an unhappy and increasingly grumpy junior partner, this minority government could be more fragile than we see on the surface.
Dan Davies is the MLA for Peace River North.