Britain’s politically conservative Telegraph newspaper says the Cabinet Manual is “the closest thing Britain has to a rule-book.” It is important here because BC’s legislature is based on the Westminster parliamentary system and follows common conventions.
The course of action Christy Clark should have followed is written in the manual:
[Incumbent Government] is expected to resign if it becomes clear that it is unlikely to be able to command that confidence and there is a clear alternative.
Was John Horgan entitled to form Government as soon as he demonstrated confidence of the Legislature? When a majority of elected MLAs delivered to the Lieutenant Governor an agreement to support Horgan as Premier, Clark should have resigned. Instead, she ignored the verdict expressed May 9 by 60% of voters.
The Cabinet Manual explains the Queen (and the Lieutenant Governor as the Queen’s representative) has had only one path to follow:
In modern times the convention has been that the Sovereign should not be drawn into party politics, and if there is doubt it is the responsibility of those involved in the political process, and in particular the parties represented in Parliament, to seek to determine and communicate clearly to the Sovereign who is best placed to be able to command the confidence of the House of Commons.
Clinging to power may offend our unwritten constitution but it enabled Liberals to advance favoured projects and reward favoured supporters. More importantly, the defeated Premier has used her illegitimate position to use the Legislature to promote an entirely new election platform, mostly lifted from those of opposition parties.
This is part of my response to a reader who sent an email, saying the Lieutenant Governor “should just say Christy Clark has won.”
Under proportional representation, parliaments will see minority government more frequently. It will not necessarily be the leader of the single largest party that is made first minister, it will be the leader of the bloc that combines enough members to demonstrate he/she can hold confidence of the house.