British Columbia

Andrew Weaver keeping all options open in new role of B.C. political kingmaker

After winning a historic three seats in last week's provincial election the Andrew Weaver and the B.C. Green Party will hold the balance of power in the new legislature. How they leverage it remains to be seen.

B.C. Green Party leader in discussions with both major parties and enjoying every minute of it

Andrew Weaver is all smiles as he leaves the B.C. legislature rose garden after speaking to media about the Green Party negotiating team. (Chad Hipolito/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver appears to be relishing his role as potential political kingmaker if his first post-election press conference is any indication.

Weaver appeared energized and smiling in the B.C. Legislature rose garden, flanked by fellow Green Party MLAs Adam Olsen and Sonia Furstenau.

Together, the three hold the balance of power after last week's election delivered a minority government with the B.C. Liberals winning 43 seats and the NDP 41 seats — a result that could change May 24 pending a recount in two ridings.

Nevertheless, Weaver is forging ahead, planning how to leverage his new power and keeping his options open.

"I know you're expecting big news," he said. "We're here to say we are in negotiations with both the B.C Liberals and NDP."

Any assumption the Greens would align more easily with the NDP was quickly shot down. 

"It would irresponsible for us to preclude negotiations with any political party simply because they have not said something in past. We're in discussions with both," said Weaver.

'Understand compromise'

"Our position has always been that the B.C. Greens can collaborate and negotiate with anyone. We understand what compromise means. And we are here to ensure that good public policy is first and foremost in our discussions."

The Green's negotiating team will be made up of Weaver, Furstenau, Green Party platform chair Liz Lilly and Norman Spector, former chief-of-staff to Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.

Deputy Leader of the B.C. Green party Sonia Furstenau looks on as Weaver speaks to media. (Chad Hipolito/Canadian Press)

Weaver said Spector has been brought into the fold as "someone with a deep understanding of political strategy."

'Big three' issues

The "big three" issues the team will be seeking cooperation on are achieving official party status for the Greens, banning big money from political campaigns, and proportional representation. 

Official party status is top of Weaver's list and the obvious deal breaker.

Official party status automatically kicks in when a party elects four MLAs and ensures guaranteed funding and speaking time in the legislature. But the rule can be changed with a vote. 

"We have to have party status because none of these parties are going to want to negotiate with three independents," said Weaver. "[It's] critical as a means and way that will to allow us to do our jobs."

Weaver speaks to supporters at election headquarters at the Delta Ocean Pointe on election night in Victoria, B.C., May 10. (Chad Hipolito/CP)

Weaver also talked about the Site C hydroelectric mega-project and the twinning of the Kinder Morgan pipeline as other issues the Greens could put on the negotiating table. 

"We believe Site C is reckless from an economic perspective. It's essentially trying to deliver power to a non existent LNG (liquified natural gas) industry," he said. "We believe that having diluted bitumen in our coastal waters is not something we can support.

"Our position on Kinder Morgan and Site C is not too dissimilar from the NDP's position... but is quite dramatically far away from the Liberal position. So in negotiations you have to put it all on the table and see where things end up."