By Nicole Mordant and Ethan Lou
VANCOUVER/CALGARY (Reuters) – 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.
A Liberal win threatens U.S. coal exporters that rely on British Columbia’s ports to ship to Asia. The Liberals have threatened a levy, in retaliation for U.S. duties on softwood lumber.
Preliminary results showed the ruling right-of-center Liberals squeaked to victory with 43 seats but were one seat shy of a majority. The left-leaning New Democratic Party (NDP) took 41 seats. Absentee votes still need to be counted, a process that will take until May 24 and could change the outcome.
The province’s nominal leader, the lieutenant governor, has requested the Liberal Premier Christy Clark continue to govern.
To keep power, the energy-friendly Clark needs to woo the tiny environmentalist Green Party, possibly making concessions as she tries to push forward with pipeline expansion plans and liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects.
On Wednesday, Clark said she was ready to work across party lines and hopes to meet Greens leader Andrew Weaver soon.
The Greens, which have three seats, could also ally with the NDP to form their own majority, resulting in an administration unfriendly to energy development.
When asked if that would happen, NDP leader John Horgan on Wednesday said he spoke to Weaver overnight and noted they had a range of issues in common.