Greens hold balance of power with three elected MLAs in stunning B.C. election

By The Canadian Press
May 9, 2017 - 11:43pm Updated: May 10, 2017 - 2:23am

VICTORIA — British Columbia’s upstart Green party achieved the historic political breakthrough they were looking for on Tuesday, winning three seats and holding the balance of power as no party won enough seats to form a majority government.

The see-saw election battle ended with 43 Liberals, 41 New Democrats and three Greens, although recounts could still change the outcome.

“We offered people a change that they could count on and British Columbians delivered that change tonight,” said Weaver.

Weaver spoke briefly with Liberal Leader Christy Clark and NDP Leader John Horgan, but he said it was too early to make any decisions about forming coalitions or informal working agreements with the other parties.

“Everything is give and take,” Weaver said. “We know how to compromise.”

He suggested he saw no reasons why a minority government “can’t last a full term” of four years.

But Weaver said the top priority for the Greens is removing the influence of big money from politics. Political donations from corporations and unions were election issues for both the Liberals and NDP.

Green supporters chanted, cheered and clapped as the reality of the winning results started to sink in.

Christin Geall of Victoria said she was ecstatic knowing the Greens will hold the balance of power.

“This is truly historic,” she said. “I never believed it was possible, even though I’d hoped.”

Weaver was the first Green elected to B.C.’s legislature four years ago when he surprisingly defeated former Liberal cabinet minister Ida Chong in Oak Bay-Gordon Head.

He is an internationally recognized climate scientist who was part of a team that shared a Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore.

In the house, Weaver gained a reputation as a prolific writer of private members bills. Several of them attracted Premier Christy Clark’s support, including a proposal to ban mandatory high heels for restaurant servers and legislation that requires post-secondary institutions to write and maintain policies to prevent sexual violence on campus.

The Greens received eight per cent of the popular vote in the 2013 election along with their lone seat, but Weaver boldly forecasted gains in areas of NDP strength on Vancouver Island and the Kootenays. They finished with more than 16 per cent of the popular vote based on Tuesday’s preliminary results.

He said at the outset of the campaign that if he was the only Green elected, he would ultimately step aside as leader.

Weaver said watching B.C. invest in old fossil fuel technologies and miss opportunities to develop a sustainable and modern economy convinced him to pursue politics.

He also stuck to policy-driven messages during the campaign and criticized the NDP for pushing voters to reject the Greens to help them oust Clark’s Liberals, saying it was a form of voter suppression.

“There are people out there who feel that smear and slur are the ways to win elections,” Weaver said after voting in his Victoria-area riding Tuesday. “That’s not our way. Our way is to inspire people to get out to vote.”

Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press

British Columbians voted for a change in government: NDP Leader John Horgan