May 17, 2017 / 11:40 PM / 4 months ago

Parties reach out to 'king-maker' Greens in British Columbia

(Reuters) - British Columbia’s two biggest political parties are courting the tiny Green Party which holds the balance of power after an election handed the Western Canadian province its first minority government in 65 years.

The left-leaning New Democrat Party (NDP), which finished just two seats behind the ruling Liberals in last Tuesday’s election, on Wednesday launched a petition asking British Columbians to show their support for getting “big money” out of politics and for a proportional voting system.

Those are two of the top three issues for Andrew Weaver, the leader of the Greens, which with three seats can provide a majority to either main party in the Pacific province’s legislature.

Weaver said earlier on Wednesday he had three non-negotiable items for any party wanting to work with the Greens: official party status, banning corporate and union donations to political parties, and a plan to move the province’s electoral system from the existing first-past-the-post system.

He said he had held discussions with both Liberals leader and British Columbia premier Christy Clark and NDP leader John Horgan.

Final voting results are due by May 24 and could still change the election outcome. Preliminary results show the Liberals, who have been in power for 16 years, with 43 seats, just one seat shy of a majority in the 87-seat legislature.

The NDP’s Horgan said on Tuesday that while he had held talks with both Weaver and Clark, his staff had only spoken to the Greens’ staff. “I have no such relationship with the B.C. Liberals,” he said.

Clark said on Tuesday she has had “good conversations” with both leaders and that the Liberals would work across party lines even if they gained another seat after the final vote tally. The provincial Liberals are unrelated to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s federal Liberals.

On issues such as oil and gas developments, the Greens are much closer to the NDP than to the right-of-center Liberals. Both oppose Kinder Morgan’s C$7.4 billion ($5.45 billion) Trans Mountain pipeline expansion in the province, which the Liberals approved.

Weaver has, however, backed the Liberals in the past on certain economic issues.

Reporting by Nicole Mordant in Vancouver; Editing by Andrew Hay

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