How could the British Columbia Green Party throw its balance of voting power in the province’s hung legislature to the party that promotes liquefied natural gas development, approved the loathed Trans Mountain pipeline, and brushed aside questions about need and cost to build a hydroelectric megaproject on the Peace River? David Beers offers six reasons why it could happen.
The B.C. election May 9 left no party with a majority in the province’s 87-seat legislature. With three seats, the B.C. Greens led by Andrew Weaver held a precarious balance of power between the incumbent Liberals, with 43 seats, and the Opposition NDP, with 41. Those numbers may change next week, when recounts are to be conducted in two ridings. Meanwhile, speculation is racing as to which way the party in the middle might throw its three votes in a confidence motion in the house.
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Writing in The Tyee, Beers offers half a dozen motives for Weaver, a University of Victoria climate scientist and contributing author to the IPCC’s Nobel Prize-winning Fourth Assessment Report on Climate Change, to pick Christy Clark’s ethics-challenged, fossil-enthused, climate-dawdling Liberals over the John Horgan’s Opposition NDP.
For one thing, Beers notes, Weaver “represents one of the wealthier ridings in the province. Those voters [are] more progressive on environmental issues than economic. As if speaking to them while campaigning, Weaver declared his party’s economic plan was ‘closer’ to the BC Liberals’ than the NDP’s.”
Then there is a guy thing. “Weaver’s personal friction with John Horgan is real,” Beers observes. “Both are alpha guys who bristle when they feel disrespected.” By contrast, he suggests, Clark has gone out of her way to court Weaver’s academic ego. The NDP is also tarred in some Green circles with having campaigned against the then-Liberal government’s carbon tax in 2009.
Weaver might well argue, as well, that since “the B.C. Liberals won more votes and seats than the NDP, it’s only fair that Clark’s party has earned a first chance to team with the Greens,” Beers writes. If that offends some Green supporters, he reasons, the party’s “no-whip” rule gives Weaver the opportunity to point out that “whatever deal his party strikes with the B.C. Liberals, each piece of legislation will rise and fall on how each member of his Green caucus votes independently.”
There’s also the temptation to hope that a Green presence in—or at least adjacent to—government might encourage Liberals to consider new thinking on some issues, what Beers describes as the ever-alluring “narrative of capitalism reformed.”
“Myself,” Beers writes, “I think it would be both a political and practical mistake for Andrew Weaver and his two Green MLA colleagues to politically ally themselves with the B.C. Liberals. If real social and environmental progress is to happen, and the very way we elect politicians is to change, the NDP are much better partners for the Greens.”