Tom Shypitka was sworn in as the Kootenay East MLA during a ceremony at the legislature in Victoria on Thursday.
The newly-elected provincial government representative joined fellow members of the BC Liberal caucus during the proceedings, which included remarks by Craig James, the Clerk of the House, swearing or affirming oaths and posing for photo ops.
The ceremonies were broken up by political parties; the BC Green MLAs were sworn in first on Wednesday, while the BC Liberals and the BC NDP followed separately on Thursday.
Shypitka was struck by over a century of legislative history in the building as he familiarized himself with Parliament Buildings.
“As you walk inside the legislature, you can’t help but feel the history and the sense of duty and honour,” Shypitka said. “It’s really emotional.
“It’s kind of overwhelming to see the pictures on the wall and the history and the people you’re going to be sitting with for hopefully the next four years. It might be shorter, you never know.”
According to Mike de Jong, the government house leader, the Legislature will be officially recalled on June 22.
“The first order of business in this new parliament will be the election of a speaker,” de Jong said, in a statement. “After which, and in the aftermath of a very close election, the government will seek to determine if it continues to enjoy the confidence of the house.”
From there, it’s anybody’s guess as to what can happen.
Traditionally, the governing party offers up a willing candidate for election to the Speaker of the House role, however, given the election results, the situation will be a little unique.
Currently, the BC Liberals have 43 seats, which is one shy of a majority government at 44. The BC NDP, which captured 41 and the the BC Greens, which took three, hammered out an agreement topple the BC Liberal minority government and support each other on confidence votes.
Without a Speaker of the House, the government can’t sit.
So the first order of business on June 22 will be electing a speaker, says Shypitka, who confirmed that the BC Liberals would not be submitting one of their members for the role.
That means a speaker would have to come from the NDP or the Greens, reducing their alliance from 44 members to a total of 43 — still not enough for a majority.
However, the speaker is allowed to vote to break a tie, however, the role is traditionally non-partisan.
Shypitka says it’s a hurry-up-and-wait situation until June 22.
“I’ve talked with a lot of people who say, ‘This is so unusual, we don’t know what we’re doing, we don’t know what’s going to happen,’” Shypitka said. “Everybody is just waiting for that throne speech and we’ll see how the confidence is and take it one step at a time.”
Once a speaker is elected, the Liberals will likely bring a throne speech forward to test confidence. If the confidence vote fails, then Lieutenant Governor Judith Guichon will approach BC NDP leader John Horgan and give him the opportunity to form government.