Steve Thompson
Steve Thompson
Steve Thompson

Victoria: A former Liberal cabinet minister is British Columbia’s new legislature Speaker in what is likely to be a short-term appointment, but efforts are already underway to extend the posting.

Steve Thomson, a former minister of forests, lands and natural resource operations who represents Kelowna Mission, was acclaimed Speaker on Thursday.

The province’s new Liberal minority government could fall in a confidence vote next week.

Thomson said he is not looking beyond his duties in the event of the Liberal government’s defeat and it would be up to a new government to appoint a Speaker.

But he didn’t say from which party the Speaker should be chosen.

“If the government changes, it’s the government that identifies a Speaker,” he told a news conference. “Again, I’m not going to speculate as to how things will unfold. My job will be to manage the house in the legislature to the best of my ability.”

The Speaker is destined to play a pivotal role in the 87-seat legislature.

The Liberals have 43 seats, one shy of a majority, but the New Democrats with 41 seats, and the Greens with three seats have agreed to vote together to defeat the Liberals in a confidence vote.

NDP Leader John Horgan and Green Leader Andrew Weaver described Thomson as a person of integrity, adding if he were to extend his duties should the NDP form a minority government that would be welcome.

“Steve Thomson is a quality guy, a man of the highest integrity,” said Horgan. “I’m not convinced he doesn’t take this responsibility very seriously, and not as a week-long adventure but a commitment to the entire parliament.”

Premier Christy Clark’s Liberals will table a throne speech Thursday that outlines the government’s agenda, even though their defeat is likely.

In the days before the throne speech, Clark has promised plans to raise welfare rates, ban union and corporate donations to political parties, and provide more subsidized childcare spaces.

 By Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press