B.C. Green MLAs Adam Olsen, Andrew Weaver and Sonia Furstenau in the B.C. legislature, November 2017. (Hansard TV)

B.C. VIEWS: 2017 is the year of the B.C. Green Party

Andrew Weaver’s shifting priorities shape politics for 2018

In addition to this year-end column on the rise of the B.C. Green Party, Black Press legislative columnist Tom Fletcher took a ride with Green leader Andrew Weaver in his electric car, to talk about climate change and the environment. Warning, the video contains singing and the ending may surprise you.

One of my vivid memories from 2017 was walking to work the morning after the B.C. NDP and Green Party formalized their minority government deal.

Legislature security patiently watched a woman wearing a green rain jacket and bike helmet shinny up one of the flagpoles and unfurl a black banner with white lettering.

“People Power: 1

Kinder Morgan: 0

Change is Coming

Greenpeace”

A second Greenpeace employee, crouched on the lawn below, hit “play” on a portable stereo as TV cameras rolled. The opening notes of Gary Wright’s 1975 pop hit Dream Weaver filled the air, a reference to B.C.’s new political star, B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver.

Events had moved quickly since the morning of Wednesday, May 10, when B.C. residents awoke to an election result that would remain in limbo for seven weeks. Weaver was in high demand that day, fielding calls including the BBC and European media about the first real Green Party breakthrough in North America.

Weaver addressed his biggest-ever media scrum in the legislature rose garden that morning, taking questions on what he intended to do with a three-seat balance of power. He was emphatic, as he had been through the campaign. Job one was cleaning up the “wild west” of unregulated B.C. political donations.

By Sunday, May 14, Weaver had a new top priority. Appearing on the CTV program Question Period, he declared that “number one” on his list of “deal breakers” in talks with the 43-seat B.C. Liberals and the 41-seat B.C. NDP was official party status, which at that time required four seats.

Both larger parties must have agreed quickly, because Weaver soon sacked his press secretary and hired three people, including a chief of staff and communications director, anticipating the taxpayer-funded budget that comes with official party status.

With the vital recount dragging on in Courtenay-Comox to determine if then-premier Christy Clark could retain a bare majority, another Green top priority emerged – proportional representation. The final count was in and the B.C. Greens had taken almost 17 per cent of the popular vote. It was concentrated in urban areas, but under a new formula it could triple the number of Green seats.

Fast-forward to mid-December, where Weaver held court in his basement office. I asked him if he had anything to do with the NDP rules for a referendum on a new voting system, a simple majority, no minimum turnout and government support to stack the deck in favour of the Green-NDP urban base.

Not at all, Weaver said. Sure, proportional representation is a founding principle of the Greens, but it’s “inside baseball” and the public doesn’t much care. Keith Baldrey of Global TV then reminded Weaver that he had declared changing the voting system to be his top priority before the crucial stage of talks with the NDP.

It was important for the negotiations, Weaver replied, but not something voters were talking about on doorsteps. Then he went into one of his long dissertations about how one voice-one vote is “the foundation of democracy,” and proportional representation will work even better for rural B.C., because a multi-member riding that covers much of the north will have MLAs from all parties.

He wanted to impose the new system without a vote, but now the fall 2018 referendum looks like a sure thing, he’d rather talk about important issues, like his wildly unaffordable child care plan.

If I may suggest one New Year’s resolution for B.C. voters, it is to keep an eye on this guy.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Email: tfletcher@blackpress.ca


@tomfletcherbc
tfletcher@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Reports of rashes prompt pool closures at Harrison Hot Springs

Public pool available after all five mineral pools closed until further notice

Oil pipeline company offers cash to expand under two Chilliwack school yards

District offered $136,500 to widen from 18 to 42 metres through Vedder middle and Watson elementary

Chilliwack’s Chief Ernie Crey a firm pipeline supporter

Crey lauds NEB focus on marine safety in his role representing Indigenous oversight committee

Sarah Wark’s run just about done at Scotties Tournament of Hearts

With an overall record of 5-5, Wark’s Team B.C. won’t be qualifying for Saturday’s playoff round.

Chilliwack’s aquifer again in the spotlight with NEB pipeline approval

Concerns from WaterWealth Project and Coun. Jason Lum, but mayor says it’s time to ‘move forward’

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

Girl heard saying ‘Help my Dad’ in suspicious radio message on Vancouver Island

Police asking for help following mysterious signals from somewhere between Comox and Sayward

Man sentenced to 7 years for smuggling drugs and shooting at border guards in Sumas

Nathan Hall was arrested in Abbotsford in 2013 after day-long manhunt

No treatment for highly infectious measles, says doctor

10 cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver as of Friday

Two more measles cases confirmed in Vancouver

It brings the number of total cases within the city connected to the outbreak to ten

B.C. Special Olympics officially underway in Vernon

Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Vancouver Aquarium wants your help to name a baby killer whale

The public helped name Springer’s first calf, Spirit, and is being asked to help with the second

Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

Corrections officers demonstrated in Maple Ridge on Friday afternoon

Skier dies at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Cause of death for young man has not been released

Most Read