BC Green Party leader Andrew Weaver has announced he will be beginning negotiations with the BC Liberals and BC NDP “imminently,” as the election results hang in the balance.
The final count of ballots in the BC election begins on Monday, with five close races and a final result expected to be settled by end of day Wednesday.
Weaver, who has been chief negotiator twice in collective bargaining at UVic, told reporters in a conference call that the BC Greens were going into these negotiations in good faith.
“It would be pretty irresponsible for us to simply assume that we only have negotiating ability with one political party as opposed to two,” said Weaver.
“That is why we’re going to go in with a good faith bargain. You put your fists up front, you don’t add things after the fact to your list, you go up with a good faith bargain.”
All of the BC Greens’ platform would be on the table for consideration during the negotiations, said Weaver.
However, there are guiding principles they would maintain, he said, including pushing for proportional representation, banning big money, and achieving official party status.
“We have to have party status, because none of these parties is going to want to negotiate with three independents,” said Weaver.
“I think they want us on matters of confidence to actually work together, so party status is critical. But party status is a means and way for us to do our job.”
On proportional representation, Weaver said they could look to the federal government’s extensive consultative process, which made recommendations on the issue.
Justin Trudeau ultimately abandoned his campaign pledge to reform Canada’s voting system. But Weaver said the BC Greens are pressing ahead.
“I don’t think we need to rediscover the wheel,” said Weaver. “Obviously there needs to be a consultative process, obviously we’ll need to negotiate how that will play out.”
However, he said, the BC Greens had always said in their platform they would not have a referendum on proportional representation.
“Referenda are important perhaps, but you need to know what you’re voting on,” said Weaver. “We cannot go against who we are, but we would be open to discussing a referendum afterwards.”
Weaver pointed out BC used to have an preferential voting system, but WAC Bennett brought in the currently used first-past-the-post system–without a referendum.
Ahead of the negotiations, Weaver said, the BC Greens have been getting strategic political advice from Norman Spector.
A former civil servant and journalist, Spector served as in the BC government in the 1980s deputy minister in thenBC premier Bill Bennett’s office.
In the 1990s, Spector also served as chief of staff to former Canadian prime minister Brian Mulroney.
“We were looking on our team for somebody with a deep understanding of political strategy,” said Weaver. “[Spector] has never been a member of a political party… He’s not driving the political agenda.”
The BC Greens’ platform and policy is being represented in the negotiations by Liz Lilly, who was the party’s platform chair, said Weaver.
As for the BC Greens’ vehement opposition to the Site C dam and the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion, Weaver says they will also be part of negotiations.
“Our position … is not too dissimilar from the BC NDP, our position … is quite dramatically far away from the Liberals,” he said.
“In negotiations, you put it all on the table and let’s see where they send up.”
Overall, Weaver said, the BC Greens campaigned on a platform of change and that is what they would be negotiating.
“We found British Columbians quite inspired by that platform,” said Weaver.
“Our position has always been that the BC Greens could collaborate with anyone, we could negotiate with anyone… Good public policy will be first and foremost in our discussions.”