Weaver ready to start negotiating
Green leader takes shots at Liberals’ record on environment and support for pipeline expansion
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.
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.