British Columbia

Greens celebrate 'historic' B.C. wins amid minority uncertainty

B.C.'s Greens are celebrating a historic win that has tripled their seats in the B.C. Legislature and given them "much greater power."

'We would work with anyone,' says Andrew Weaver as party wins 3 seats but banning big money is deal breaker

Green Party candidate Sonia Furstenau at her headquarters in the Cowichan Valley hugging a supporter upon hearing that she was elected. (Michael Tymchuk/CBC)

B.C's. Greens are celebrating a historic win that has tripled their seats in the B.C. Legislature, and given them "much greater power" amid unclear election results.

The party's expected surge came through on Vancouver Island, though they missed the goal of four seats which would have secured them official party status.

"What a historic day for British Columbia," said party leader Andrew Weaver to a room of supporters in Victoria, cheering and waving signs.

The B.C. Green Party's three MLAs celebrate in Victoria, after leader Andrew Weaver, left, invited Sonia Furstenau, right, and Adam Olsen, centre, on stage. (Deborah Wilson/CBC)

Weaver held his seat in Oak Bay-Gordon Head, while Adam Olsen won Saanich North and the Islands, and Sonia Furstenau took Cowichan Valley — wresting both seats from the New Democrats.

"People across British Columbia have shown that they are ready for politics to be done differently in this province," Weaver said.

Deputy leader Matt Toner put it even more bluntly.

"This is a hell of a day for the province of B.C.," he said.

"It's going to be a very interesting situation for everyone in B.C., starting tomorrow."

The Green Party's Adam Olsen won Saanich North and the Islands. (Megan Thomas/CBC)

'Big money' ban key to Green support

With the Liberals winning a minority government — at least for now, pending recounts — all eyes are on Weaver's new Green caucus to know who he'll back.

"We would work with anyone," he told reporters, repeating his position throughout the campaign.

"You can trust that every decision that Greens will make will follow a principled, issue-by-issue, evidence based approach."

Weaver's first priority, which he calls a deal breaker, is banning so-called 'big money' — union and corporate donations, which the Greens did not take this election.

"We have already been clear that our number one priority is removing the influence of big money on politics."

That message clearly resonated with voters, at a time when B.C. has been dubbed the "Wild West" of political fundraising, the RCMP is investigating Liberal fundraising practices, and the NDP was criticized for support from big unions.

The Greens wouldn't speculate on election night which party they'd support in a minority or coalition.

"There's going to be a lot of decisions to come in the days and weeks ahead," said Toner.

'Much greater power' for Greens

What the Greens had hoped to do Tuesday night, but didn't, is reach the four seats required to secure official party status in the B.C. Legislature, said University of B.C. political science professor Gerald Baier

"It falls short of their sort of overall objective of getting [those] four seats," said Baier.

"But in the context of a minority government situation that we're in, it will give them — not incredible — but much greater power."

Baier noted that both Liberal Leader Christy Clark and NDP Leader John Horgan reached out to Weaver in their public statements on election night.

Weaver called his party's win significant, not just in a B.C. context, but for Greens across the continent, claiming they'd won "the first ever Green elected caucus in North America."

"Now is the time ... to celebrate."

Green Party supporters watch as results come in from election night at the Delta Ocean Pointe on election night in Victoria, B.C., on Tuesday, May 9, 2017. (Chad Hipolito/Canadian Press)