Weav­ing a politi­cian out of an aca­demic


The Prince George Citizen - - Opinion -

r. Andrew Weaver – the man who would be king. Or, at least, the king­maker.

There is no ques­tion he holds the bal­ance of power in the B.C. Leg­is­la­ture. He can bring down the govern­ment at any mo­ment by sim­ply vot­ing against the NDP in any mat­ter of con­fi­dence.

He is also pas­sion­ate about the en­vi­ron­ment which is keep­ing with ex­pec­ta­tions for the leader of the Green Party.

But he has an al­ter-ego, Dr. Weaver – the man who has de­voted his life to work­ing on en­vi­ron­men­tal and cli­mate is­sues.

In­deed, prior to elec­tion to the Leg­is­la­ture in 2013, he spent 25 years of his ca­reer at the Uni­ver­sity of Vic­to­ria in the School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, most re­cently as Lans­downe Pro­fes­sor and Canada Re­search Chair in Cli­mate Mod­el­ing.

To say he is well versed in cli­mate is­sues is an un­der­state­ment. He is an in­ter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized ex­pert. He lit­er­ally helped to write the phys­i­cal sci­en­tific ba­sis chap­ters in the In­ter­gov­ern­men­tal Panel on Cli­mate Change re­ports.

So when Dr. Weaver speaks about the cli­mate and our ecosys­tem, he car­ries not just the weight of the Green Party but a pro­found amount of sci­en­tific knowl­edge. He is a heavy­weight on the is­sue in sci­en­tific cir­cles.

But oc­ca­sion­ally sci­ence and pol­i­tics col­lide.

From a sci­en­tific per­spec­tive, we are more of­ten in­ter­ested in the data and the con­clu­sions which can be drawn from the in­for­ma­tion. The an­swer is driven by the num­bers which are ac­ces­si­ble to any­one. The con­clu­sion is reached through log­i­cal rea­son­ing.

From a po­lit­i­cal per­spec­tive, the num­bers are not as im­por­tant as peo­ple’s per­cep­tions. What do the cit­i­zens of this prov­ince want? How can we achieve it? It isn’t that the num­bers don’t mat­ter but they are no longer the sole vari­ables in the equa­tion. Logic can some­times be miss­ing from the de­bate.

Over the past few months, we have been watch­ing Andrew Weaver ne­go­ti­ate the fine bal­ance be­tween the politi­cian and the sci­en­tist. For years, Dr. Weaver has been a strong ad­vo­cate of hy­dro­elec­tric power. It is “green en­ergy.” The car­bon diox­ide emis­sions per megawatt of en­ergy are among the low­est of all meth­ods of pro­duc­tion – 100 times smaller than the emis­sions from a coal­fired power plant.

But Mr. Weaver, the leader of the Green Party, is not sup­posed to be in favour of Site C as it has en­vi­ron­men­tal and ecologi- cal im­pacts. Iron­i­cally, much of the pro­pa­ganda ar­gu­ing against Site C isn’t fo­cused on sav­ing the en­vi­ron­ment but on the im­pact the dam will have on “food se­cu­rity.”

That is, it is al­right to clear the land of its na­tive flora and fauna pro­vided the re­sults are used to gen­er­ate food. It is not al­right to do the same thing to make elec­tric­ity.

In any case, Mr. Weaver had much to say about Site C that Dr. Weaver would likely not have said. And to be fair, Mr. Weaver did not bring the govern­ment down over the is­sue.

But the con­flict for the leader of the Green Party con­tin­ues.

In a Dec. 31, 2017, in­ter­view, he was asked his take on LNG in 2018. His re­sponse: “If B.C. starts to fo­cus again on try­ing to land an LNG in­dus­try, given all that has hap­pened, I can tell you I am vot­ing the govern­ment down. I am not stand­ing by no mat­ter when it hap­pens…. That’s my line in the sand.”

“Given our sta­ble democ­racy in un­sta­ble times, given our ac­cess to clean en­ergy and busi­nesses around the world that want to la­bel them­selves clean, if we go down this LNG path and start to sign sweet deals again then we might as well have the BC Lib­er­als back in power.”

This was fol­lowed up by a Jan. 17, 2018, tweet (the po­lit­i­cal medium of choice these days), in which Andrew Weaver wrote: “Lest there be any doubt, let me be per­fectly clear: NDP govern­ment will fall in non-con­fi­dence if af­ter all that has hap­pened it con­tin­ues to pur­sue LNG folly.”

Strong words and con­sis­tent with Dr. Weaver’s view of car­bon diox­ide emis­sions and their im­pact on the en­vi­ron­ment. But Mr. Weaver talked with Premier Hor­gan by phone while the Premier was on his Asian trade mis­sion which in­cluded dis­cus­sions on LNG. While the Premier’s of­fice says Mr. Hor­gan won’t be com­ment­ing on the phone call, Glob­alNews seems to think Mr. Weaver has soft­ened his po­si­tion.

Mr. Weaver doesn’t think it will come down to a vote of non-con­fi­dence. “We have so many shared val­ues that I am con­vinced this can work”, he told reporters. Af­ter talk­ing things over with the Premier, he still thinks there is a way for­ward.

But he will be lis­ten­ing in­tently to the throne speech and does not want to hear any com­mit­ments to LNG. Oth­er­wise, Dr. Weaver might just bring down the govern­ment.



Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.