The rugby-loving, Hawaiian shirt-wearing professor who played a key role in bringing down the 16-year BC Liberal dynasty is leaving politics at the end of this term.
Green Party leader Andrew Weaver will not run in the next provincial election. A leadership convention could come as soon as next summer.
“This is not an easy decision for me, there is a long way to go,” Weaver said at an Oct. 7 news conference in the Legislature’s Hall of Honour.
Weaver became B.C.’s first Green MLA when he upset BC Liberal incumbent Ida Chong in 2013 in Oak Bay-Gordon Head. He became party leader in November 2015. Under Weaver, the B.C. Greens hold the balance of power in the Legislature in an alliance with the NDP. He said his caucus has helped reframe climate change as an economic opportunity at a time when youth activism is on the rise. “It’s time to let another generation take the lead.”
In the meantime, Weaver will replace Green house leader Sonia Furstenau on the Legislative Assembly Management Committee, the all-party group chaired by Speaker Darryl Plecas that oversees the operations and spending of the Legislature.
Plecas blew the whistle last year on Clerk Craig James and Sergeant-at-Arms Gary Lenz, who both retired while under RCMP investigation.
Weaver said he is loyal to both NDP Premier John Horgan and Plecas. He said the stability of the minority government is his primary objective and said the B.C. Greens have demonstrated they are not only a positive influence on the Legislature, but an essential component.
“B.C. Greens have never been as organized or seen as much widespread support as today.”
Weaver could have up to two years left in office. The NDP’s mandate lasts until October 2021 under B.C.’s fixed election dates law, but there is always the chance that Horgan could seek a majority by calling an earlier election.
The BC Liberals lost their majority in the 2017 provincial election, making it the first minority government since 1952. But, on May 29, 2017, after negotiations with both the BC Liberals and NDP, Weaver’s Green caucus opted for a four-year agreement to support the NDP on budget and confidence bills.
The three Greens and 41 NDP MLAs were enough to defeat the BC Liberal throne speech in the historic June 29, 2017 vote. Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon rejected Premier Christy Clark’s bid for another election and asked Horgan to form a new government.
Key measures under the so-called “GreeNDP” Confidence and Supply Agreement included a referendum on proportional representation, campaign finance and lobbying reforms, a $5 per tonne increase in the carbon tax, referral of the Site C dam to the B.C. Utilities Commission, opposition to the Kinder Morgan pipeline, and a minimum wage increase. The agreement didn’t stop Weaver from levelling harsh criticism at the NDP’s green light for the $10.7 billion Site C, support for LNG plants planned for Kitimat and Howe Sound, and a broken promise to stop partisan taxpayer-funded ads.
Weaver, a Victoria-born and raised mathematics professor, will be 58 in November. He was Canada Research Chair in climate modelling and analysis at the University of Victoria’s school of earth and ocean sciences and a lead author on the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s second through fifth scientific assessments. Weaver was recently hospitalized when he suffered a bout of labyrinthitis, a condition that causes extreme dizziness, temporary hearing loss and vomiting, on Sept. 10 before a speech in Langley.
Weaver said he made the decision to leave provincial politics with his family toward the end of the summer, before the health scare that he said only reaffirmed his decision. While he may resume his university career, Weaver was asked whether he would consider running for federal politics. He blurted out: “swear on a stack of bibles, that will never, ever happen!”
Furstenau got into politics after leading the Shawnigan Residents’ Association protest against the BC Liberal government-permitted landfill near a drinking water reservoir. The high school teacher was elected a Cowichan Valley Regional District director in 2014 and the Green MLA for Cowichan Valley in 2017. At LAMC, she found herself across the table from BC Liberal house leader Mary Polak, who had been the environment minister during the Shawnigan reservoir dispute.
When the Legislature resumes Oct. 7, BC Liberal Tracy Redies (South Surrey-White Rock) is expected to be absent because of a recent heart and hepatitis illness after a trip to Brazil. Kelowna MLA Ben Stewart is back in the BC Liberal caucus after Elections BC found no wrongdoing related to a donation from a constituency assistant. Meanwhile, Jinny Sims is out of the NDP cabinet after it was revealed on Oct. 4 that she is under an RCMP investigation overseen by Special Prosecutor Richard Peck.
Peck is the senior lawyer on Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou’s defence team.
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