Weaver says Green MLAs were ‘afraid to stand up’ to NDP over LNG
Independent MLA and former Green Party leader Andrew Weaver created a buzz this weekend when he took to Twitter to slam his former caucus mates.
Weaver accused Green MLA Sonia Furstenau — who is the frontrunner to replace him as leader — and interim Green Leader Adam Olsen of wimping out when it came to challenging the governing NDP on its contentious move to develop the province’s LNG industry.
“My former colleagues [Olsen] and [Furstenau] were afraid to stand up to the BC NDP [with respect to] the LNG development,” he tweeted. “I was ready to go to election, but in my opinion, they were more interested in re-election than they were about standing up for [BC Green Party] principles.”
The NDP government’s determination to develop a liquid natural gas industry in B.C. was a central sore point in the party’s relationship with the Green caucus for much of the two and a half years of Weaver’s leadership.
Weaver has repeatedly described LNG as his party’s “line in the sand” — a policy the Greens would not support at any cost.
Threat to let government fall was ‘more of a feather’ than a stick
Weaver doubled down on his social media remarks in an interview with BC Today Sunday afternoon, contending that his rookie caucus mates didn’t back his desire to bring down the government over LNG.
“I was prepared to go to an election,” Weaver said. But he does not believe his caucus colleagues’ anti-LNG convictions were quite as strong.
“It’s understandable,” he said. “Adam and Sonia just got elected — they didn’t want to go through an election again.”
The tension came to a head less than six months after the Confidence and Supply Agreement (CASA) between the two parties was signed — when Premier John Horgan travelled to Asia in January 2018 to “stump for LNG,” as Weaver described it.
“Talk about redefining no surprises — that was a huge surprise!” Weaver said in a 2018 year-end interview with BC Today. CASA is based on “good faith and no surprises,” but the premise has not always worked as described.
Weaver said the unexpected trip prompted him to play hardball with the government.
“Took the pin off the grenade and chucked it in and said, ‘You keep this up, your government is falling,’” Weaver said of his reaction to Horgan’s trip. “That created a dialogue that we built on for eight months that led to CleanBC.”
While Weaver has copped to using “some very, very strong words” to press the depth of his opposition to LNG, he told BC Today that, at the time, his caucus colleagues would not have backed him up had the issue gone to a confidence vote.
Green caucus members remember things differently
“We were surprised to see MLA Weaver make this claim as the BC Greens strongly opposed LNG and made this very clear throughout the CASA consultation process,” Olsen said in a statement to BC Today Sunday. “We voted 14 times in the house against the legislation, but the BC NDP and the BC Liberals both voted together to bring LNG to BC.”
Weaver abruptly resigned from the party and its leadership last fall and no longer holds a membership card. Among the reasons he cited for his departure was a reluctance to campaign against Premier John Horgan in the next election. The pair had worked well together and their relationship was often dubbed a “bromance.”
On the weekend, Weaver also charged that Fursteneau hadn’t done her research when it came to her pitch for a four-day work week, which he called “an absolutely kooky idea.”
Furstenau was soliciting reaction to New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s proposal to move the country to a four-day work week as a way to boost pandemic recovery efforts.
Furstenau’s leadership platform includes exploring the feasibility of a “shorter work week” for full-time workers. The leadership race has been postponed due to the pandemic.