Thursday May 11, 2017

B.C. Green Party looks to leverage new political power

B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver and his party now hold the balance of power in a province where a lot of people take their politics and their environment seriously.

B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver and his party now hold the balance of power in a province where a lot of people take their politics and their environment seriously. (Chad Hipolito/Canadian Press)

Listen 19:10

The B.C. Green Party captured a breakthrough victory in the provincial election — winning three MLA seats and tripling its presence in the legislature. 

With the B.C. Liberals squeaking by with an apparent minority government, the Green Party is now in a unique position of power to advance its platform.

As absentee ballots are still being counted, the provincial lieutenant-governor asked Christy Clark to continue to govern with her minority of seats.

It's an exciting time for Green Party members, a party that has struggled to make political headway in the province.

"I think that voters across the political spectrum in British Columbia are really delighted to have the B.C. Greens emerge as a viable third party, especially at this time," says Matt Toner, deputy leader of B.C.'s Green Party. 

He tells The Current's Anna Maria Tremonti that he sees a strong future for his party as environmental awareness grows.

"It's unfortunate in many ways, but I think we're all going to wind up voting Green ... at some point in our lives because many of the problems like climate change aren't going away."

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If Premier Clark's Liberals don't secure a majority, she will need to work with other parties to govern, including the Greens. Absentee ballots are still being counted. (Jonathan Hayward/Canadian Press)

Since the election, Premier Clark has described Green Leader Andrew Weaver as collaborative, saying that B.C. voters have made it clear they want him and his party to play a bigger role in the province's future. 

"It's an historic breakthrough for the party, and really for not just in British Columbia but for Canada," says Hamish Telford, noting that this is the first Green caucus elected in North America.

But the associate professor of political science at the University of The Fraser Valley isn't so sure "how far they're going to get with the climate change file."

How much of an impact the Green Party can have on changing the political dialogue on climate change remains an open question.

"The Green Party in B.C. ran on a very broad platform that wasn't totally focused on energy projects and on the climate change issue," says CBC's national affairs editor Chris Hall

"But that being said, it is a huge part of what people voted for I think."

Hall, who is also the host of CBC's The House, tells Tremonti that B.C. politics related to climate and energy issues present a very delicate balancing act for the federal government to navigate.

"Certainly it's got the attention of the federal government."

Listen to the full segment at the top of this web post.

This segment was produced by The Current's Kristin Nelson, Sujata Berry and Seher Asaf.