British Columbia

'I'm happy to move on': Andrew Weaver expresses no regrets as he takes a step back

Andrew Weaver is stepping down as B.C. Green Party leader after four years in the job where he won re-election, led his party to a record number of seats, and allowed John Horgan to become premier by signing an agreement with the NDP. It was a historic run, but Weaver says he won't miss it.

The Green Party leader is stepping down in January, with his party's future support of the NDP uncertain

Andrew Weaver laughs during his last year-end interview as leader of the B.C. Green Party. (Mike McArthur/CBC)

While many political leaders opt for a bit of pomp, Christmas trees and shots of the B.C. Legislature in their year-end interviews, Andrew Weaver held his in a place he'll be able to spend a little more time in going forward. 

"This is the Penny Farthing pub," he says, sipping a glass of water in his riding's historic watering hole. 

"It's very reminiscent of what Oak Bay is about. It's got the old English feel to it."

Weaver is stepping down as the B.C. Green Party leader on Jan. 6, after four years in the job. In between, he won re-election in Oak Bay-Gordon Head, led his party to a record number of seats and votes in a provincial election and allowed John Horgan to become premier by virtue of signing a confidence and supply agreement with the NDP

Historic stuff. But not something Weaver will miss.

"I have always believed that politics should be viewed as a sense of civic duty and not a career path," he said. "I frankly think eight years is a long time in politics. And I'm happy to move on."

More than the environment

That doesn't mean Weaver doesn't look back at some of his accomplishments with pride. 

"I had personally three private member's bills pass. Those are the first three, at least my understanding is, that an opposition private member's bill was passed in the legislature," he said. 

Those bills:

  • Create a new set of regulations allowing for public "benefit companies" that can put social and environmental goals ahead of profits more easily. 
  • Make Holodomor Memorial Day officially recognized in B.C.
  • Allow tenants to terminate leases in cases of household violence. 

On environmental issues, the party has a mixed bag. While the party opposes both the Site C hydroelectric dam and the development of a liquefied natural gas industry in B.C., both have gone ahead without the party threatening to take down the government. 

"I think LNG is going to end up taking care of itself. I look at what's happening around the world," said Weaver, believing international trends away from the product will make B.C.'s efforts moot. 

But Weaver argues — as he often has — that there's more to the party than just its name.

"We have to tell our story better. People still associate Greens with environmental initiatives, and to some extent that's true," he said.

"What I like to say is the Greens are really focused on triple bottom line accounting: social, environmental and fiscal sustainability, not just one or the other."

The work camp for the Site C hydroelectric dam is pictured in February. (Justin McElroy/CBC)

Future Green-NDP relationship?

In the future, it will be up to someone else to decide what the Greens are focused on. Weaver will stay on as an MLA until the next election, but the party will elect a permanent leader in June 2020, and Adam Olsen will lead the party in the interim.

Weaver said he won't be commenting on or endorsing anyone in the race — "I don't want to influence that" — and doesn't want to speculate on the future of the co-operation between his party and the NDP government.

"That's the challenge for the new leader," he said, though he continued praise Horgan, who he grew closer to over the course of their unique relationship. 

"We have very similar interests, very similar mannerisms," he said.

"Both of us are basically two regular guys who, you know, enjoy darts and pool [and] have very similar values."

As for whether the new leader will feel the same way? It's a question that could have a big impact on how the province is governed, but it's not a question that publicly interests the Green Party leader as he steps aside. 

"I never look back," he said.

"I can leave behind what I leave behind, but I will not take responsibility for what happens thereafter." 

With files from Anita Bathe


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