Canada's British Columbia province calls special election for ex-premier's seat

(Reuters) - Canada’s British Columbia provincial government on Wednesday called a special election to fill a seat left empty when former Premier Christy Clark stepped down last year after her Liberal party was ousted by the New Democratic Party (NDP).

The outcome of the by-election on Feb. 14 would not shift the balance of power but could narrow the NDP’s thin lead over the Liberals if the latter wins. The NDP would still retain control due to the support of the Green Party.

The ruling NDP are tied with the Liberals with 41 seats each in the provincial legislature. The Green Party holds three seats and there is one independent.

Despite winning a cliffhanger election in May 2017 by two seats, Clark’s right-leaning Liberals were forced out of power in July when the left-leaning NDP joined forces with the B.C. Green Party to gain control of the government.

Clark stepped down as Liberal leader and resigned her seat in August, leaving the Liberals with 42 seats. They lost another seat in September when a Liberal lawmaker became speaker and was booted from his party.

If the NDP wins the by-election it will bolster the party’s power, though they remain two seats short of a majority.

The seat is in the city of Kelowna and has been a Liberal stronghold since 2009.

(This version of the story corrects reference in second paragraph that outcome of by-election would shift balance of power)

Reporting by Julie Gordon in Calgary, Alberta; Editing by Lisa Shumaker