(Recasts with party leaders', environmentalist group comments)
By Nicole Mordant
VANCOUVER May 24 British Columbia's Green Party
plans to decide over the next week which political party to back
in the Western Canadian province, its leader said on Wednesday,
after final voting results showed the tiny party holding the
balance of power.
Official results confirmed that the ruling provincial
Liberal Party lost its legislative majority in a May 9 election
in Canada's third most populous province, creating the first
minority government there in 65 years.
British Columbians, along with oil and gas companies with
big projects in Pacific province, have been anxiously awaiting
the final tally since the tightly fought election. The
provincial Liberals are unrelated to Canadian Prime Minister
Justin Trudeau's federal Liberals and more right-leaning.
With just three seats in the legislature, the Greens could
push the pro-business Liberals out of power by forming a
majority government with the opposition New Democratic Party
(NDP). The left-leaning NDP took 41 seats and the Liberals 43,
Elections BC said.
"We recognize that it is important over the next week or so
before the writ is returned to give certainty to British
Columbia and that is our target," Green Party leader Andrew
Weaver told reporters.
Next Wednesday marks writ return day, which signals the end
of the election period.
Weaver said he is open to negotiations with both the
Liberals and NDP, and had meetings scheduled with both.
Many British Columbians consider there to be more overlap
between the Greens and the NDP, which both oppose large oil and
gas projects such as Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain
pipeline expansion. The Liberals approved the
Environmentalists were quick to urge the Greens and the NDP
to join hands.
"The two parties who gained the majority of votes must now
work together to stop this pipeline, as they promised voters
they would," Sven Biggs of Stand.earth said in a statement.
Liberal leader Christy Clark said in a statement her party
had a "responsibility to move forward and form a government".
NDP leader John Horgan said that after 16 years of Liberal
rule it was time for a new government.
"I've been talking to the leader of the Green Party and his
team and I am optimistic that we will be able to put together a
framework that has a majority of support in the legislature,"
Horgan told reporters.
Included in the final count were nearly 180,000 absentee
ballots, which had not been counted. Elections BC also conducted
recounts of two electoral districts.
(Reporting by Nicole Mordant in Vancouver; Editing by Peter
Cooney and Michael Perry)