B.C.’s Green leader says it’s time for his party to show it is a legitimate political option for voters, as he rallies his membership at a weekend convention at the University of Victoria.
Andrew Weaver said debate over a new policy document outlining the B.C. Green Party agenda will be the centrepiece of the convention and annual general meeting, as he begins to prepare for next year’s provincial election.
“What I’m going to say, and what I believe the people who are there will agree with … is that we are a serious political contender,” he said. “We are running to win as many seats as the voters of British Columbia will give us.
“We want the voters to know what we stand for, who we are, and by bringing this policy document forward … British Columbians will have confidence that they understand what the Green Party stands for, and have confidence in the candidates that will run under our banner.”
Weaver is the party’s only MLA, having defeated Liberal cabinet minister Ida Chong in 2013 in Oak Bay-Gordon Head.
The party has flirted with victory in other nearby ridings, both federally and provincially, but has yet to pick up a second seat, leading some to wonder whether the Green movement is destined to remain a protest vote or emerge as a genuine political force.
The Greens will run a nearly full slate of 86 candidates in the 2017 B.C. election, but plan not to contest the riding of Delta South, out of respect for independent MLA Vicki Huntington, Weaver said.
Weaver said the new policy will need to be followed up with a fully-costed platform. He disagreed with recent comments by NDP Leader John Horgan that voters don’t necessarily expect costing for every campaign promise, saying that “people want to know you’ve done your homework” by thinking through promises.
“We would argue that what is responsible is your budget is balanced over the two- to three-year framework in which you are making a budget projection,” he said.
The party also needs “strong credible candidates” with demonstrated leadership and has lined up “mayors and councillors and lawyers,” said Weaver.
Premier Christy Clark has taken pains to back Weaver in recent years, even having her government support one of his bills on post-secondary sexual assault policies.
Though the Greens claimed this was a victory, the Liberals believe that an emboldened Green party will pull left-leaning voters away from the NDP, leaving the Liberals better-positioned to win close ridings.
Veteran political scientist Norman Ruff said it’s realistic for the Greens to believe they could pick up another two to three seats, mainly on southern Vancouver Island. “If he thinks that the way to go is to mount a provincewide campaign, I think he’s got a lot to learn about B.C. politics,” said Ruff. “I think the best counsel anyone can give him would be to concentrate on areas of strength where you can broaden your beachhead.”