Former Leader Andrew Weaver Quits BC Green Caucus

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jerrym
Former Leader Andrew Weaver Quits BC Green Caucus

Andrew Weaver annouced today that he is quitting the BC Green caucus to sit as an independent. However his reason does not make sense to me: “Sitting as an Independent will allow me to better balance work with the competing health demands affecting my family,” Weaver said. “I remain committed to the stability of this minority government and to CASA (the confidence and supply agreement with the NDP).” (https://vancouversun.com/news/local-news/former-b-c-green-leader-andrew-...)

He said he has been thinking for months about how to balance his commitments under the confidence agreement with the NDP government, his desire to grow the Green Party and “increasing health demands affecting my family.”

“I feel it is best for all parties if I continue my legislative work as an independent member, prior to the beginning of the spring legislative session,” he said. ...

The Greens, who held three seats in the legislature prior to Weaver's announcement, have an agreement to support the province's minority NDP government.

With Weaver sitting as an Independent, there will be 42 B.C. Liberals, 41 New Democrats, two Greens and two Independents in the house. The other Independent is Speaker Darryl Plecas.

Weaver, who led the party to a three-seat breakthrough in the 2017 provincial election, said it’s important that the party develop a new vision and voice independent from his.

“My presence in the B.C. Green caucus could hinder that independence,” he said. “Sitting as an independent will also give me a better opportunity during the upcoming legislative sitting to attend to personal matters, including a number of health challenges affecting my family.” ...

The party’s interim leader, Adam Olsen, said the party supports Weaver’s decision to quit the party “so he can attend to the various health challenges affecting his family.”

Weaver endured a bout of vertigo last year related to an inner ear problem.

Olsen said the party’s work to reduce polarization and restore trust has been demanding, “and because of this we recognize that a person’s commitment to their family needs to come before those to their caucus.”

https://www.timescolonist.com/news/local/former-party-leader-andrew-weav...

I get the health aspect of this and I get that he needs to reduce his workload because of this. I would even get it if he said he had to resign for health reasons. However, leaving the Greens, means his work for the party must be done by the remaining two members.  If he is well enough to carry on as MLA and do some political work, even at a reduced rate, it would help reduce the burden on the other two if he stayed as a Green. It sounds to me more likely that there is a significant difference of opinion between him and the two other Green MLAs over the direction of the party, and possibly over their support of the BC NDP government. In other words, it sounds like both Weaver and the other MLAs are trying to paper over their differences in order to minimize any political problems. 

His statement that he remains committed to the stability of the NDP minority government, suggests that perhaps the two remaining Green MLAs are not, at least not as solidly in support over the two parties' four year agreement.

This might even impact the selection of a new federal Green leader.

This could raise problems and possibly opportunities for the provincial Greens and NDP and even the federal Greens and NDP. The Vancouver Sun article on this ends with "more to come", suggesting this story is far from over. 

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

It would be interesting to see if either of the remaining Green MLA's defected to the BC Ecosocialists.

jerrym

Weaver's leaving of the Green Party continues to raise questions as the following article by Vaughn Palmer notes:

The B.C. Greens tried Wednesday to put the best face on the news that former leader and party builder Andrew Weaver was leaving their caucus to sit as an independent.

“We support Weaver in his decision to sit as an independent so he can attend to the various health challenges affecting his family,” said the Greens’ interim leader Adam Olsen. “A person’s commitment to their family needs to come before those to their caucus.”

But the statement did not begin to explain why it was necessary for Weaver to leave the caucus to devote more time to his wife, who is dealing with cancer. The Greens would surely have allowed him to take a compassionate leave from caucus duties. Olsen himself was excused from one major committee assignment at the legislature, after pleading family responsibilities. The New Democrats and B.C. Liberals would have readily excused Weaver from any committee responsibilities. There was no need for him to abandon his party to reduce his workload.

Closer to the mark was the strong hint from Weaver that he wanted to take some political distance from the party as it proceeds to select a permanent successor. “I believe that it is important for the B.C. Green party to develop a new vision and voice independent from mine. My presence in the B.C. Green caucus could hinder that independence,” said Weaver in a statement posted on his MLA blog.

Weaver had earlier signalled his intentions to step away from the Greens once he vacated the leadership, as planned on Jan. 6. “The day I am no longer leader, I will go non-partisan,” he told editor Maclean Kay of the Orca online news service. “I didn’t join a party until I was a member of the Green party, and I will resign my membership.”

The distancing also extended to Weaver’s views on the coming leadership race, as when he told Global TV that “it would benefit the party to have a leader from the Lower Mainland.”

This at a time when Green MLA Sonia Furstenau was widely expected to seek the party leadership. Like Weaver and Olsen, Furstenau represents a constituency on Vancouver Island. With Olsen ruling himself out as a candidate, Furstenau could be the high-profile favourite of many Greens. But Weaver appears to be less than overwhelmed with her leadership qualities. ...

Then there were Weaver’s damning-with-faint-praise comments on the membership of the party he led to its best showing in the last election.

“It’s really been really tough with the Green party,” he told the Orca. “Probably, the most difficult part is the level of political naiveté. I mean, it’s a lovely level of naiveté — lovely in that I wish there was more of this. But it’s a bit like the Christians being fed to the lions.” Or a bit like Weaver himself being fed rhetorically to the lions on social media by Green supporters upset with his compromises on matters like Site C and proportional representation. ...

Two members are sufficient for the Greens to retain party standing, so Olsen and Furstenau will continue to be in line to receive premium pay as leader and house leader, respectively. But funding for staffing and research is formula-driven, based on the number of MLAs in the caucus. Weaver’s move would appear to reduce the budget by a third.

Both Weaver and Olsen emphasized the shift did not threaten the power-sharing agreement with the NDP. Weaver said he was still bound by his signature on the confidence and supply agreement, as it is known. He vowed to continue to uphold the government on confidence matters, the key one being the vote on the budget.

But for how long? Weaver himself has already opened the door to the possibility that if the party chooses an outsider in the leadership race that wraps up in June, the newcomer might ask him to give up his seat in the legislature.
“When new leaders come in, the honourable thing to do, if that new leader is not already an MLA, is to step aside and let them (run),” he has said. ...

Given Weaver’s tendency to make things up as he goes along, the New Democrats have been preparing for a shift in the balance of power. Premier John Horgan’s senior political adviser, Bob Dewar, warned New Democrats of that possibility in closing remarks to the party convention last November. ...

But even if Horgan saw it coming, he can’t be happy that his mercurial partner in power sharing has taken another step into unknown territory. Nor can the Greens find anything to celebrate in the premature exit from their caucus of the leader who brought them into the circle of power in the first place.

https://vancouversun.com/opinion/columnists/vaughn-palmer-weavers-move-t...

kropotkin1951

jerrym wrote:

... Then there were Weaver’s damning-with-faint-praise comments on the membership of the party he led to its best showing in the last election. “It’s really been really tough with the Green party,” he told the Orca. “Probably, the most difficult part is the level of political naiveté. I mean, it’s a lovely level of naiveté — lovely in that I wish there was more of this. But it’s a bit like the Christians being fed to the lions.” Or a bit like Weaver himself being fed rhetorically to the lions on social media by Green supporters upset with his compromises on matters like Site C and proportional representation.

https://vancouversun.com/opinion/columnists/vaughn-palmer-weavers-move-t...

During the federal election many of the Green supporters I knew were blindsided by implications of their much touted No Whipping of MP's. If the person you are voting for is not required to vote the party line then why would people think the platform means anything.

 

Aristotleded24

kropotkin1951 wrote:

jerrym wrote:

... Then there were Weaver’s damning-with-faint-praise comments on the membership of the party he led to its best showing in the last election. “It’s really been really tough with the Green party,” he told the Orca. “Probably, the most difficult part is the level of political naiveté. I mean, it’s a lovely level of naiveté — lovely in that I wish there was more of this. But it’s a bit like the Christians being fed to the lions.” Or a bit like Weaver himself being fed rhetorically to the lions on social media by Green supporters upset with his compromises on matters like Site C and proportional representation.

https://vancouversun.com/opinion/columnists/vaughn-palmer-weavers-move-t...

During the federal election many of the Green supporters I knew were blindsided by implications of their much touted No Whipping of MP's. If the person you are voting for is not required to vote the party line then why would people think the platform means anything.

One of the complaints people feel about our system is that MPs effectively become party mouthpieces and they aren't allowed to speak for their constituents. There is some validity to that. There are always different opinions within every group, and those opinions should be respected. I can remember when the NDP was asked to vote on an amendment to the gun registry brought forward by the Conservatives, and I'm glad that the MPs who felt strongly enough about it voted against their own party, considering how contentious the issue was.

That said, you're absolutely correct that when a political party stands for public office, that what I've just mentioned above needs to be balanced by some sort of minimum commitment to vote for a common public platform. If everyone is totally frelancing, then party affiliation means nothing, and it is challenging for voters to know what kind of public policies they can expect.

voice of the damned

Vaughn Palmer wrote:

Then there were Weaver’s damning-with-faint-praise comments on the membership of the party he led to its best showing in the last election.

“It’s really been really tough with the Green party,” he told the Orca. “Probably, the most difficult part is the level of political naiveté. I mean, it’s a lovely level of naiveté — lovely in that I wish there was more of this. But it’s a bit like the Christians being fed to the lions.” Or a bit like Weaver himself being fed rhetorically to the lions on social media by Green supporters upset with his compromises on matters like Site C and proportional representation. ...

Contra Palmer's terminology, I'd say Weaver's comments were more of a "backhanded compliment", than "damning with faint praise." In this context, DWFP would be something more like "The level of political sophistication among the Greens is not the worst in the world", when what you mean is that, while it might not be the worst, it does need to be a lot better.

Ken Burch Ken Burch's picture

Comments like that kind of make you wonder why Weaver ever wanted to be part of the Greens at all- it's sad that his wife has her health issues and I think we all wish the both of them whatever healing is possible in all of this, but it sounds as though he never accepted the idea that being a party leader means having to be accountable to that party's rank-and-file, to the people who actually do the work of electing and re-electing MLAs, MPPs' or MPs standing under the party banner.