British Columbia's Liberals push platform as party faces ouster

(Reuters) - The Liberal government of Canada’s British Columbia province on Thursday called for political fund raising reform and more funding for social services in a speech to mark the start of a new session of the legislature.

British Columbia Premier Christy Clark arrives for the throne speech at the legislature buildings in Victoria, B.C., Canada June 22, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Light

The Liberals have little chance of fulfilling those promises because they lost their majority control of the legislature, paving way for a coalition government of New Democrats and the Greens to take power as early as next week through passage of a no-confidence motion.

The Liberals, who have ruled for 16 years, used the “Speech from the Throne,” on Thursday to present an agenda that could form the party platform for a new election.

Defeat of the Liberals in the May election created uncertainty for businesses in Canada’s third-most-populous province, notably oil and gas projects such as Kinder Morgan Inc’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project, which is opposed by New Democrats and the Greens. [nL1N1IW0KU]

Yet the outlook remains unclear as some experts predict another election could soon be called as the New Democrats-Greens alliance only has 44 seats, one more than the Liberals. The loss of a single lawmaker could result in deadlocked legislature, sparking a new election.[nL1N1JG1M1]

The Liberals promised reforms to electoral financing, an area where British Columbia has been criticized for its lack of regulations. They also called for holding a referendum on broader rules governing elections.

The Liberals said the incumbent party had an obligation to try to rule. “It has a duty to present an agenda for consideration and seek the confidence of this house,” the speech read.

The requirement that the legislature elect a neutral parliamentary speaker could endanger the fledgling New Democrat-Green government because the official is usually chosen from the ruling party or parties.

Electing a Green or New Democratic speaker would reduce the alliance’s seat count to a 43-43 tie with the Liberals. [nL1N1J21MS]

The speaker is allowed to vote to break a tie, but repeated votes in favor of one party would undermine the impartiality of the role.

The Speech from the Throne was written by the Liberals but delivered by the province’s nonpartisan nominal leader, Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon.

Reporting by Ethan Lou in Calgary, Alberta; editing by Jim Finkle and Denny Thomas