British Columbia

B.C. Greens 'running to govern,' release economic platform

The B.C. Green Party is beginning to roll out its election campaign platform. The first major component — the economic strategy — was unveiled on Wednesday in Vancouver.

The B.C. Green Party economic plan is heavy on innovation in the tech sector

B.C. Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver speaks to media at the party's first major 2017 election campaign announcement in Vancouver on Wednesday. (CBC)

B.C. Green Party Leader  Andrew Weaver presented his party's economic plan on Wednesday in Vancouver, the first major component of its election campaign platform.

Weaver, the lone Green MLA in B.C., said the party will focus on innovation and creating tech jobs that don't increase greenhouse gas emissions.

"Going forward, we cannot rely on megaprojects and offshore investors to create new jobs. They might, but as the [B.C.] Liberals have found, they can be costly to produce, and can leave B.C. according to their whims," he said, flanked by party deputy leader Matt Toner and several candidates.

"We need to invest in ourselves. Most of the new jobs created in British Columbia are in small businesses, and business startups are a key part of the growth in the tech sector," said Weaver.

A candidate wears a B.C. Green Party button ahead of the 2017 provincial election. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Weaver kept his answer vague when asked repeatedly to highlight a specific initiative that might draw enough voters to put the party in power.

"I'm not going to campaign on sound bites ... those actually turn voters off," he said.

But Weaver did put forth a number of ideas, including:

  • Establishing an innovation commission "to help sustain and grow innovative B.C. enterprises."
  • Investing up to $20 million per year to "support ideation, mentoring and networking at post-secondary institutions."
  • Promote investment in clean energy and transportation with the goal of creating jobs without increasing greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Reviewing mandate and legislation of public sector agencies and crown corporations to "ensure that they promote innovation and support business development."

"We wanted to start off with our innovation platform, because it's timely," said Weaver.  "Everything you're going to see will be from a position of governance."

Running a distant third place

The Greens have a long way to go before they're in a position to win the election, but Weaver insists that's what he's planning to do.

"We're running to govern. We're running to govern this province. You know, you don't enter a race to finish third place," he said.

Weaver has given the party a voice in the B.C. Legislature as the MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head. 

He says the party's fundraising is going well despite trailing far behind both the B.C. Liberals and B.C. NDP. 

"It was clear to us in September that the issue of union and corporate donations was one that was troubling in British Columbia," said Weaver. "So rather than say, 'elect us and we'll do that,' we banned receiving union and corporate donations ourselves."

"Our fundraising went through the roof. We raised nearly a quarter of a million dollars in December alone. We're up well over 500 per cent on month to month fundraising," he said.

The party plans to run a candidate in every one of the 87 ridings, and Weaver said more than 60 have already been announced, with another 15 to be named shortly.

Wednesday's economic plan was the first announcement of many. Weaver said the education and democratic reform plan will be coming soon.

"Our platform is written, it's already done — it's ready to go, but the release of it will be strategic and timely, you know, based on what's going on in B.C. at the time," he said.

"We're just getting started."

Follow Rafferty Baker on Twitter: @raffertybaker