British Columbia·Analysis

Andrew Weaver gets aggressive in prime-time introduction

Green Party Andrew Weaver is a political newcomer. On Wednesday night, he earned some of his stripes, with an aggressive performance in the leaders' debate.

'I really enjoyed the debate, it was actually a lot of fun,' says B.C. Green leader

B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver speaks during the debate. (BC Broadcast Consortium)

On Wednesday night, Andrew Weaver was at the centre of the provincial election leader's debate, both figuratively and literally.

Standing at the middle podium, the Green Party exchanged barbs with B.C. Liberal Leader Christy Clark who was on his right and B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan who was to his left.

"I challenged both of them on their platforms, I challenged both of them on their statements," said Weaver, following the debate.

"I felt very comfortable in this role. As a climate scientist, the stuff I had to deal with, this pales in comparison."

Weaver plays bigger role

It was a sharp contrast from a week ago when Weaver was mostly on the sidelines during the first leaders' debate.

But on Wednesday evening, staff members were glowing after the TV debate, pleased that their boss had stuck to the game plan of being more aggressive towards his opponents.

"The opportunity was there because we were supposed to clash. I really enjoyed the debate, it was actually a lot of fun," said Weaver. 

But did Weaver make the impression needed to enter the conversation as a potential premier?

Lacking the big moment

In a room near where the debate took place, a group of UBC political science students and graduates watched the Green Party leader's every move. They weren't so sure Weaver delivered that big moment.

"He seemed cold and calculated," said Dario Garousian, a third-year student.

"For me, just the way he smiles when Horgan and Clark are battling each other, he knows this is helping his party.

"If he didn't have that cheeky smile, I probably would have liked him better."

Indeed, Weaver smiled frequently during his frequent jousts with Horgan.

At one point, he asked the NDP leader if he was going to lose his temper right then and there.

"He seemed like today it was his job to catch John Horgan off his game, to call him out for his policy. But he seemed inexperienced even at that,'" said recent UBC grad Vyas Saran.

NDP battling history

However, it wasn't like the UBC students who gathered to watch the debate thought the others did much to outshine Weaver.

Horgan was asked often about his temperament and did not have any moments where he seemed like he lost his cool.

But the NDP has only won the popular vote twice in British Columbia's history, and the UBC students were not sure that trend would end.

"I don't know if they have done enough in this debate to change that," said UBC political science PhD student Daniel Westlake. "I don't see anything here that will really shift the election for the NDP."

'Dodging the questions'

That leaves Clark.

The B.C. Liberal leader plugged away at her vision for jobs. But she failed to mention the names of any of the children who have died in care while she has been in office. 

"Clark for me, it was typical Clark. Trying to be calm, cool and collected," said Saran. "She was good at dodging the questions, too.

"She didn't talk about names, she didn't talk about family plight. She wanted to deflect attention from there. It was unfortunate." 

In the end, there was no real moment that stood out as the moment of the debate.

But one thing is clear, Weaver has introduced himself on a provincial stage — and voters are still trying to wrestle with exactly how they feel about him.