An Armchair Mayor editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
PITY Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon. Alternatively, envy her.
It depends on whether or not you’d relish the power to decide who will be the next government of British Columbia.
One thing is pretty much certain, which is that Guichon never saw this coming. She is a rancher by vocation, used to the challenges of making a living off the land, sitting on committees on the environment, supporting 4-H clubs… that sort of thing. Hiring and firing premiers is a whole other thing.
Appointed by then-Prime Minister Stephen Harper (officially, by the governor-general), she is approaching the end of her five-year term. Up to now, it’s been pretty uneventful.
Lieutenant-governors have a lot of powers, officially, but in large part they’re never required to exercise them. Most of the time, being lieutenant-governor involves a lot of official dinners, handing out awards, reading the Throne Speech and other ceremonial duties. But the job actually has some real authority when called for.
For example, the lieutenant-governor officially chooses the premier, which isn’t supposed to be difficult since 99.9999 per cent of the time it’s the leader of the party with the most members. When that party has a majority, it’s easy. When it’s a minority, not so much.
Thus, Guichon will have a decision to make, and it won’t be easy. At 2 p.m. today (May 30, 2017), NDP leader John Horgan and Green leader Andrew Weaver will announce the details of the agreement they’ve reached in order to put the NDP in office with support from the Greens.
Together, the two parties have 44 MLAs-elect, one more than the Liberals and a majority.
But Premier Christy Clark isn’t sounding as though she’s going to give up power easily. And she has options. Faced with the deal between the NDP and Greens, she could resign.
But she could also ask Guichon for a chance to stay in power until defeated on a confidence motion. Or she could ask Guichon to dissolve the Legislature and call another election.
Guichon could do either. Or fire Clark and the Liberals and let Horgan and Weaver take the helm.
What to do, what to do?
If you don’t like pressure, you will be in a pitying mood for Guichon. If you’d love to have that kind of power, and would be perfectly willing to put up with the inevitable second-guessing by a few million people, then envy is the word that comes to mind.