Weaver ready to start ne­go­ti­at­ing

Green leader takes shots at Lib­er­als’ record on en­vi­ron­ment and sup­port for pipeline ex­pan­sion

The Province - - NEWS - ROB SHAW rshaw@post­media.com twit­ter.com/rob­shaw_­van­sun

VIC­TO­RIA — B.C. Green Leader An­drew Weaver took sev­eral pointed shots at the B.C. Lib­eral gov­ern­ment’s record on cli­mate change and its sup­port for oil pipe­lines, warn­ing Wed­nes­day that the party has to move sig­nif­i­cantly on its po­si­tions to at­tract the cru­cial sup­port of his three MLAs in a pos­si­ble mi­nor­ity gov­ern­ment.

Weaver told me­dia Wed­nes­day that his four-per­son team of ne­go­tia­tors will now be­gin sitting down for meet­ings with the B.C. Lib­er­als and B.C. NDP, to try to come to a deal to sup­port one of the par­ties in a fu­ture par­lia­ment. Nei­ther the Lib­er­als (cur­rently with 43 seats) nor the NDP (41) have enough seats to form a ma­jor­ity gov­ern­ment in the 87-seat leg­is­la­ture. How­ever, re­counts and ab­sen­tee bal­lot count­ing next week could change the seat count and pos­si­bly give the Lib­er­als a slim 44-seat ma­jor­ity.

“We’re start­ing face-to-face ne­go­ti­a­tions im­me­di­ately, and we’re look­ing for­ward to com­ing to a deal,” said Weaver.

“Our po­si­tion has al­ways been that B.C. Greens can col­lab­o­rate with any­one, we can ne­go­ti­ate with any­one, we un­der­stand what com­pro­mise means, and we’re here to en­sure good pub­lic pol­icy is first and fore­most in our dis­cus­sions and de­ci­sion-mak­ing.”

How­ever, Weaver also took di­rect aim at the B.C. Lib­eral gov­ern­ment’s en­vi­ron­men­tal record, say­ing the $9-bil­lion Site C dam is “reck­less from an eco­nomic per­spec­tive,” and the party’s sup­port for the Kin­der Mor­gan pipeline ex­pan­sion is “ut­terly ir­re­spon­si­ble” and “not some­thing we can sup­port.”

“Ob­vi­ously when we dis­cuss th­ese you can see there’s some com­mon­al­i­ties with some par­ties, and other par­ties would have to work an aw­ful lot harder to get those com­mon­al­i­ties,” he said.

“Our po­si­tion on Kin­der Mor­gan and Site C is not too dis­sim­i­lar to the NDP’s po­si­tion, our po­si­tion on Kin­der Mor­gan and Site C is quite dra­mat­i­cally far away from the Lib­eral po­si­tion.

“In ne­go­ti­a­tions you have to put it all on the ta­ble and let’s see where we end up.”

Weaver, who op­poses the pro­posed twin­ning of the Kin­der Mor­gan pipeline from Al­berta to Burn­aby, said the Na­tional En­ergy Board’s ap­proval of the project “was rigged” and in­cluded in­cor­rect as­sump­tions on things like oil-spill re­sponse.

Pre­mier Christy Clark of­fered sup­port for Kin­der Mor­gan in Jan­uary, af­ter get­ting a rev­enue-shar­ing deal with the com­pany, as well as ad­di­tional spill-re­sponse and coast guard re­sources.

“The fact of the mat­ter (is) that we’ve been told to ship di­luted bi­tu­men in our coastal waters. (It) is just reck­less, and this gov­ern­ment is reck­less for agree­ing to it,” he said.

He also chas­tised the Lib­er­als for not rais­ing the car­bon tax more ag­gres­sively. The Greens have promised to dou­ble it. “The B.C. Lib­eral po­si­tion, frankly, they don’t have a cli­mate po­si­tion,” said Weaver.

De­spite all of that, Weaver in­sisted Wed­nes­day he has yet to de­cide whether to sup­port the NDP or Lib­er­als, should the sit­u­a­tion re­main a po­ten­tial mi­nor­ity par­lia­ment.

“It would be ir­re­spon­si­ble for us to pre­clude ne­go­ti­a­tions with any po­lit­i­cal party be­cause they have not said some­thing in the past,” he said.

Pre­mier Clark and the Lib­er­als will get first crack at form­ing gov­ern­ment, but will need to do it by Septem­ber, when the prov­ince’s in­terim sup­ply spend­ing au­thor­ity runs out and the pas­sage of a new bud­get is re­quired. If her gov­ern­ment falls, Lieu­tenant-Gov­er­nor Ju­dith Gui­chon would have to de­cide whether to give the NDP a chance to gov­ern (po­ten­tially with Green sup­port) or call an­other elec­tion.

Weaver said he now has three non-ne­go­tiable items, up from two last Fri­day: Of­fi­cial party sta­tus for the Greens in the leg­is­la­ture, a ban on cor­po­rate and union do­na­tions to po­lit­i­cal par­ties, and dis­cus­sion about chang­ing B.C.’s elec­toral sys­tem to pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion along with “a plan to ac­tu­ally get there.”

B.C. vot­ers have twice re­jected chang­ing B.C.’s elec­toral sys­tem. The Green plat­form calls for an im­me­di­ate change. The NDP have said they’d hold an­other ref­er­en­dum on the idea. Weaver ap­peared Wed­nes­day to pro­pose a path for­ward in which he’d want to change to pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion first, hold an elec­tion un­der the sys­tem to show vot­ers how it would work, and then hold a ref­er­en­dum on whether to keep it.

“Our po­si­tion had been we would bring in pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion with­out a ref­er­en­dum be­cause it is one of our six guid­ing prin­ci­ples, and we can­not go against who we are, but we’d be open to dis­cussing a ref­er­en­dum af­ter­wards,” said Weaver.

— CP

Green party Leader An­drew Weaver, cen­tre, with elected party mem­bers Adam Olsen and So­nia Furste­nau speak to me­dia about the ne­go­ti­at­ing team on the Leg­is­la­ture grounds Wed­nes­day.

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