Andrew Weaver strolled through the revolving doors of the B.C. legislature and into the history books Thursday as the province’s first Green party MLA.
Weaver took the oath of allegiance inside the legislative chamber, emerging as a newly minted MLA with access to parliamentary privileges and votes.
The 51-year-old climate scientist toppled Liberal cabinet minister Ida Chong in Oak Bay-Gordon Head on May 14, giving his fledgling B.C. Green party its first foothold in the legislature.
He pledged to do politics differently by working on behind-the-scenes collaboration and not playing out conflict in front of the media.
“We should be here to do policy, not to fight,” he said. “We should be able to support good policy and at the same time oppose bad policy. … Criticism is easy. Constructive criticism is more difficult. I think that will be my role.”
Weaver was quick to wade into provincial issues Thursday, urging the government to move fixed provincial election dates from the spring to the fall and create a parliamentary budget officer. He also pledged to be more transparent with his MLA expenditures.
Weaver called Premier Christy Clark’s plan to rapidly develop the liquefied natural gas industry, and use the revenue to pay off the provincial debt in 15 years, a “pipe dream” because it will fail to predict the future price differential between Asian markets and British Columbia.
“The only way this is going to work is with massive taxpayer subsidies, because the economics don’t work otherwise,” he said of the Liberal LNG plan.
“That’s my fear … that to further this promise, we will actually end up subsidizing massively an industry that doesn’t need it.”
As the lone Green MLA (technically recognized by the legislature as an independent), Weaver might find his opportunities for debate limited.
He’ll be at the whim of the Opposition NDP for a chance to talk in question period — and many New Democrats remain upset at the Greens for luring away previous NDP voters.
“I’ve worked over the years with members in all parties, so I don’t see why I can’t continue to do so,” Weaver said.
“I’m sure I will be able to do so. I’m going to have no problem sitting down at lunch at the NDP table. They might have a problem with it, but if you can’t eat lunch together, you can never work together. One of the first things I’m going to do is make sure people talk in different forums.”
Weaver is on political leave from his professor’s position at the University of Victoria. He’s taking a pay cut, by forgoing a $182,100 UVic salary for $101,859 in MLA pay.
Weaver is the first MLA to be sworn in out of the 85 who won in the May 14 election.
He becomes B.C.’s 883rd MLA since 1871.
He swore his allegiance to the Queen on a bible, signed the parliamentary roll, received a copy of his writ of election and attached an exclusive MLA-only pin to his suit jacket lapel.