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Linda Reid, Speaker of the B.C. legislature since 2013, is ‘an exceptional Speaker,’ according to the Green Party leader.JONATHAN HAYWARD/The Canadian Press

The impenetrable green volume first written by Britain's House of Commons clerk in 1844 and updated through 24 editions isn't exactly light reading. But among the dry rules and procedures contained in Sir Thomas Erskine May's document are some details that will ensure the drama over who will govern British Columbia and how is a long way from over.

After weeks of uncertainty, British Columbians now know broadly that Premier Christy Clark's Liberals will not survive a confidence motion and will fall. The NDP and Greens have formed an alliance that, with a one-seat majority, could have the blessing of the Lieutenant-Governor to take over government.

But governing will require MLAs to pick a Speaker from their ranks, someone to oversee decorum during debates and to shepherd the passage of bills. With 43 Liberals sitting across the aisle from 41 NDP MLAs and three Greens, picking a Speaker will be no easy task, even considering that the job comes with an extra salary, a nice office and the chance to have a portrait hanging in the legislature corridor along with predecessors dating back to B.C.'s first parliament.

In the event of a tie, the Speaker casts the deciding vote. In this legislature, with the NDP and Greens holding a majority of only one seat, ties are a strong likelihood. Even once a Speaker is chosen – traditionally from government benches – there is another job that needs filling: The legislative rules require a deputy Speaker to oversee the work of MLAs in committee.

All 43 Liberals have indicated they do not want their names to stand for Speaker.

"It's the biggest unresolved issue in this saga that has been playing out out since election night," says political scientist Hamish Telford of the University of the Fraser Valley, referring to the May 9 vote that created the first B.C. minority government scenario in six decades.

"No business can take place until that issue is resolved. We can't get to the confidence vote on Christy Clark until we get a Speaker."

As in Parliament and other provincial legislatures, the B.C. Speaker is basically a referee for MLAs, who oversees debate and ensures that members act in accordance with parliamentary rules. In addition, the Speaker is chair on a committee on the management of the legislature.

In a Friday interview with CHNL radio in Kamloops, NDP Leader John Horgan said members of the public were asking him about the Speaker issue last week as he attended a lacrosse game in New Westminster. He said that's exciting.

"More and more people are learning about their parliamentary democracy."

But Mr. Horgan is saying little about how the NDP is going to approach the issue beyond expressing the hope that an MLA from any of the parties will come forward to stand for election for the position once members of the legislative assembly return to Victoria.

The timing of that is up to Ms. Clark, who has said she expects her government to be defeated in the legislature when she does call members together.

"There are some outstanding people in the legislature – Liberal, New Democrat and Green – who would be ideal representatives for Speaker," Mr. Horgan told CHNL.

"But I am not going to prejudge how people will make their personal choices or how they will vote when the opportunity presents itself."

Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver said that no Green MLA would be available to stand for the post. He said an NDP Speaker would be a tight political arrangement, but bills would pass because the Speaker would vote with the government.

He suggested Linda Reid, a BC Liberal who has been Speaker since 2013, would be terrific if she continued in the job.

"She was such an exceptional Speaker," Mr. Weaver said. "She wanted to make democracy better. I'd love her to be Speaker."

Ms. Reid did not respond to calls seeking comment.

Under the agreement with the NDP, the three Green MLAs have agreed to back the NDP on confidence motions for three years, with the parties agreeing to work together on issues that include changing the electoral system and battling plans to expand the controversial Trans Mountain pipeline between Alberta and the Lower Mainland.

Prof. Telford notes that having an NDP Speaker would create a tie vote on matters of confidence and there is a convention in the Canadian parliamentary system that the Speaker votes to sustain things rather than defeat things.

"The convention would be then for the Speaker to vote in favour of the Throne Speech," Prof. Telford said.

Based on convention, if Ms. Reid were to remain Speaker, the NDP and Greens would have enough votes to defeat Ms. Clark in a confidence motion and to pass a budget without threat of a tie. But if all the Liberals – including Ms. Reid – refuse to stand for Speaker and an NDP or Green MLA were placed in the Speakers' chair, both government and opposition would have an even number of seats. Ties would be frequent.

Prof. Telford said he is anticipating a standoff in the legislature. If no MLA agrees to stand for Speaker, Ms. Clark would have to report the situation to Lieutenant-Governor Judith Guichon, and it's possible the Lieutenant-Governor could conclude neither the Liberals nor the NDP can command the confidence of the legislature. If that's her conclusion, she could make the call for another election.

"It's a mess. I think we are two or three significant steps away from the NDP forming government," said Prof. Telford, citing the resolution of the Speaker issue, defeating the government and convincing the Lieutenant-Governor to offer the NDP the opportunity to form a government. "This is an enormously, unstable situation – precarious."

Mr. Horgan told CHNL that the New Democrats would reluctantly be ready for another election.

"Certainly that's not our desire nor is it the public's desire, but absolutely. That's the essence of the political party process."

A deal has been reached to pave the way for the NDP to form a minority government in British Columbia, with support from the Green party. NDP Leader John Horgan says he’s excited about the possibility for 'stable government.'

The Canadian Press