After two years of collaboration, Weaver feels ‘weird’ about the idea of campaigning against the NDP

By Shannon Waters December 18, 2019

B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver has fought his last election; next month, he will step down just as the race to become his successor as party leader gets underway.

“I’ve always believed politics should be a sense of civic duty — you get in, you do what you say you’re going to do and then you get out,” Weaver told BC Today in a year-end interview “There are far too many people in politics, including in [the B.C. legislature], who have been here far too long. And when you’re here for too long, you … in many cases forget why you were elected in the first place.”

At 58, Weaver has been a sitting MLA for six-and-a-half years — B.C.’s first elected Green. The last two have been his only brush with real political power. 

Since 2017, the Greens and the NDP government have been working together under what is known as a Confidence and Supply Agreement, rather than a formal coalition. The deal gives the three-member Green Party input on policy and legislation in exchange for their votes — and is the only thing keeping the government from being brought down by the Opposition Liberal Party, which holds one more seat than the governing NDP. 

All things considered, the collaboration has worked well for the parties involved.

But it has also contributed to Weaver’s lack of appetite for another election battle. He told BC Today campaigning against the NDP during the next election – scheduled for 2021 — would feel “weird.” 

Weaver now considers many NDP cabinet ministers “quite good friends” and his warm relationship with Premier John Horgan is oft-touted as a “bromance.”

“I’d have a hell of a hard time running as a leader against them right now … because campaigns are very antagonistic and I don’t like that,” he said. “I like to get shit done.” 

Weaver sees Clean BC, the province’s ambitious emissions reduction plan, as his crowning achievement. Its recognition by Delta Management Group’s 2020 Clean 16 awards in October prompted the Green leader to announce his resignation soon after.

“I did what I said I’m going to do, and it’s nationally recognized — that’s the time to move on,” he said. “I don’t think you can get any better than we’ve got right now — B.C. Greens, working very collaboratively with government. I know it’s not the typical political thing, because you should always, you know, fight one more election.”

Weaver expects the NDP to “go hard against the Greens” in 2021 as the party tries to move from a minority to a majority in the legislature. After an “ugly” 2017 provincial campaign and disappointingly similar tactics in the 2019 federal campaign, Weaver says he’s ready to leave the political realm.

“I don’t want to do that again,” he said. “I want to leave on a high note.”

For his part, the premier shares Weaver’s warm sentiments but is more clear-eyed about the realities of election campaigns.

“At the end of the day, we’re going to be competing for the same votes,” Horgan told BC Today in reaction to Weaver’s comments.

The B.C. Greens will kick-off the contest to replace Weaver in January and the party’s governing agreement with the NDP will continue.

Weaver has suggested the Greens would be well-served by choosing a leader from the Lower Mainland — all of the parties current MLAs hail from Vancouver Island — and, while he says he does not want to “weigh in” on what the party should do once he’s no longer at the helm, he has some hopes for its future.

“There’s a number of potential paths that can be taken from here,” Weaver said. “The path that I tried to take it down is one that’s focused very much on small business, focused on evidence-based decision making … on being there for people … and on doing what’s right, not what’s politically expedient. I would love to see someone continue that forward.” “There’s some who might want to take the party in a more eco-socialist [direction],” he added. “That’s not my kind of preference, but [I’ll] leave that up to the future leader.”