B.C. Premier Christy Clark is the only party leader not at the table as delegations from the Liberals, New Democrats and Greens try to navigate the first minority legislature in British Columbia in six decades – a challenge new to modern politicians in the province.
NDP Leader John Horgan is participating in the talks in Victoria to find common ground with his BC Green counterpart, Andrew Weaver, their parties confirmed on Tuesday.
At this point, however, the BC Liberals are being represented by former finance minister Carole Taylor, Mike de Jong, the current finance minister, education minister Mike Bernier and Brad Bennett, the son of former premier Bill Bennett and who travelled with Ms. Clark during the last two election campaigns.
While Elections BC does recounts and processes absentee ballots, the BC Greens have a balance of power in the legislature, meaning the other two parties are courting them for support that could help the Liberals continue in government or vault the NDP into power for the first time in 16 years.
But the complication is the uncertainty, especially around the riding of Courtenay-Comox, which could go either Liberal or NDP.
At this point, the BC Liberals, with 43 seats, are one seat away from a majority in the 87-seat legislature. The BC NDP have 41 seats and the BC Greens have three seats. Combined, the latter two parties may be able to govern.
One party insider, speaking Tuesday on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to address the issue, said the talks have been "amicable all around," but serious negotiations won't begin until the final results from this month's provincial election are known.
Although Ms. Clark is not part of the Liberal negotiating team, she last week said she has had "friendly" initial conversations with Mr. Horgan and Mr. Weaver.
Ms. Clark has spoken of the parties coming together to address the priorities of B.C. voters.
Mr. Horgan has described multiple conversations with "Andrew" that have led him to conclude there is considerable common ground beyond the Greens' "deal breaker" issues of electoral reform, banning corporate and union donations from politics and empowering the Greens with official party status, which would grant them more staffing and resources.
Mr. Horgan is backed by members of his election team – campaign director Bob Dewar, former leader Carole James, who also co-chaired the party's platform committee, and Marie Della Mattia, who travelled with Mr. Horgan during the campaign, acting as an on-the-road sounding board for the Leader in speeches, news conferences and other events.
The Liberals and NDP on Tuesday confirmed the makeup of their teams, but declined any other comment.
The BC Green Party has previously said its negotiating team consists of Mr. Weaver, deputy leader and new MLA Sonia Furstenau, caucus chief of staff Liz Lilly, who previously has worked as a provincial civil servant and was the party's platform director, and Norman Spector, a chief of staff to former prime minister Brian Mulroney and deputy minister to former premier Bill Bennett.
During a CBC radio election panel, on May 11, Mr. Spector said: "Weaver would be an idiot, which he isn't, to conduct talks with only one party if only to give himself more leverage. I still think he's going to end up with the NDP, but it seems to me he'd be able to get a much better deal if he was simultaneously conducting talks with the Liberals."
Doug McArthur, a former deputy minister to the premier and cabinet secretary in NDP governments between 1993 and 1999, said the parties are facing complicated challenges.
In an e-mail exchange on Tuesday, the director of the public policy school at Simon Fraser University wrote that the Liberals risk their coalition coming apart if they give in to key Green needs while the NDP risks losing support to the Greens if it gives too much to the party.
However, he said he expects an eventual NDP-Green agreement.
He wrote that the most likely scenario is an agreement in which the Greens would support an NDP Throne Speech, budget and major legislation with the NDP able to enact other less-important legislation that would not be treated as no-confidence votes.
"The details of these things will be under intense negotiation," he wrote, adding government is more "granular and complex" now than it was decades ago.