VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — As Thursday marked the two year anniversary of John Horgan’s swearing in as B.C. premier, two political scientists say the NDP’s minority government appears to be exceeding expectations.
When the New Democrat’s joined forces with the Green Party to form government in 2017, they seized power from the BC Liberals who had a majority government for 16 years.
The mere fact that the current government with Horgan at the helm has survived is a success, according to Hamish Telford, a professor at the University of the Fraser Valley.
“When he took over it was under very unusual circumstances,” he says. “It doesn’t seem like his government is in any danger of falling any time soon and that’s quite a remarkable run for a minority government–a precarious minority government–that came into power the way it did.”
The typical tenure for a minority government in Canada is two years, he adds.
Telford says there have been no major cabinet shuffles since Horgan took power and this stability is surprising, particularly for a minority government.
UBC Political Science Professor Max Cameron agrees.
“The first lesson that I would draw is that minority parliaments can work,” he says. “This has proven to be a stable government.”
Cameron says the government has managed to do more than just sustain itself, it has “managed to get things done.” He points to the 2017 legislation that put a cap on campaign contributions from corporations and unions as a significant legislative success. He gives the government an overall grade of a B+.
Both experts agree that Horgan left some crucial campaign promises unfulfilled, which may cost him support from voters next election.
“He said he would use every tool in the toolbox to stop the Trans Mountain pipeline,” Telford says. “I think there are a lot of Green and NDP supporters that want to see that project killed and he’s not been able to bring that to a stop. He hasn’t even managed to significantly manage the way it’s going to operate.”
Telford says the government has also failed to deliver an alternative to the Liberals’ plans for how to ease congestion in the Massey Tunnel and on Highway 1.
“The government is certainly taking its time on these files and I think that frustration is going to boil over if they don’t make some decisions quickly”
Cameron points to the referendum on proportional representation as the most striking failure.
“The process was deeply flawed and really rushed,” he says.
“It’s not an issue that is necessarily going to drive how people vote… but it’s a failure nonetheless. It speaks to a lack of appreciation for the complexity of public engagement and a lack of appreciation for how difficult it is to change an electoral system.”