B.C. New Democrats poised to take power, inherit state of wildfire emergency

VANCOUVER — British Columbia is on the cusp of a change in government for the first time in 16 years, all while the province scrambles to control scores of wildfires that have forced tens of thousands of residents from their homes.

The B.C. New Democrats will inherit not only the keys to power from the current Liberal government at tomorrow’s swearing-in ceremony in Victoria, but also responsibility for a provincewide state of emergency.

Hamish Telford, a political scientist at the University of the Fraser Valley, says the wildfire response on the ground is unlikely to be affected by the a high-level transfer of power.

But Telford says premier-designate John Horgan must be careful not to appear too celebratory about making the official switch, given the emergency situation across much of B.C.

Both Horgan and departing Premier Christy Clark have emphasized there is no room for partisanship when it comes to the province’s wildfire response.

The NDP won 41 of the 87 seats in the legislature in the May election, but reached a deal with the B.C. Greens, who won three seats, which will allow them to form a narrow minority government.

Green Leader Andrew Weaver says he does not think the transfer of power will impact firefighting efforts.

Weaver, whose background is in environmental studies, says people need to begin taking climate change more seriously and recognize humanity’s role in the increase of both the number and intensity of these types of natural disasters.

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