VANCOUVER May 10 The prospect of a minority
Liberal government in British Columbia heightened economic
uncertainty on Canada's west coast on Wednesday, pitting the
future of key energy projects against the ability of the
Liberals to work with the third-party Greens.
While absentee votes still need to be counted in several
regions, a process that will take until May 24, preliminary
results showed the ruling right-of-centre Liberals squeaked to
victory in the vote but lost their majority after 16 years in
power as the left-leaning New Democratic Party (NDP) picked up
The legislative minority means the tiny Green party will
hold the balance of power as Premier Christy Clark tries to push
forward with pipeline expansion plans and a promise to apply a
levy to thermal coal exports to the United States in retaliation
for U.S. duties on softwood lumber.
Both Clark and Green Party leader Andrew Weaver have said
they are open to working with other parties, but the precarious
nature of minority governments and an alliance between the
energy-friendly Liberals and the environmentalist Greens cast
some doubt on the ability to get projects done.
"We don't have experience in Canada with the Greens holding
the balance of power, so we just don't know what will happen,"
said Nelson Wiseman, political science professor at the
University of Toronto. "Much will depend on what Christy Clark
is willing to offer them."
NDP Leader John Horgan opposes Kinder Morgan Inc's
C$7.4 billion ($5.4 billion) Trans Mountain oil pipeline
expansion and has also expressed reservations about a $27
billion liquefied natural gas terminal that Malaysia's Petronas
wants to build.
The Canadian government in November approved Kinder Morgan's
proposal to expand Trans Mountain, which would help ensure oil
exports from the oil sands in the neighboring province of
Alberta reach Asia. Clark's government gave the green light in
With the vote count not complete, the Liberals, which are
not linked to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's federal
Liberal Party, had won 43 seats in the 87-seat provincial
legislature. The NDP had 41 and the Green Party three.
Forty-four seats are needed for a majority.
The loss of its majority is a big blow for the Liberals,
which had campaigned on a track record of strong economic growth
and balanced budgets, but had been hobbled by voter anger over
unaffordable real estate and environmental concerns.
But the Liberal win spells the likely death knell of thermal
coal exports through British Columbia. Clark asked Trudeau to
ban thermal coal exports through her province in retaliation for
U.S. duties on softwood lumber. Most of the thermal coal exports
come from U.S. mines.
(Reporting by Nicole Mordant in Vancouver and Andrea Hopkins in
Ottawa; Editing by Bernard Orr)