He took a pay cut to go from the tranquil groves of academe to the bare-knuckle brawl of B.C. politics, but Andrew Weaver says he’s ready to lead the B.C. Green Party into the next election.
The first-term Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA told reporters at the legislature this week he made up his mind over the Christmas holidays to carry on with his political career, after two years of keeping his options open.
Weaver said he will stand for the leadership of the party as it tries to consolidate its Vancouver Island foothold of one provincial and one federal seat, held by federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May. He said that leadership vote likely won’t be until 2016, to prepare for the next scheduled B.C. election in 2017.
A mathematician specializing in climate models, Weaver took political leave from the faculty of the University of Victoria to run in the 2013 election, and defeated former B.C. Liberal cabinet minister Ida Chong. He went from a $180,000 job at UVic to $101,000 as an MLA.
Weaver declined to seek the leadership after winning the party’s first-ever B.C. seat, and the party appointed Saanich North and the Islands candidate Adam Olsen as interim leader instead. Olsen has indicated he will run again in the seat where he came close in 2013, with voters who supported May in the last federal election.
Despite the marginal role given independent MLAs, Weaver has made an impression on the government and the opposition NDP. Premier Christy Clark has taken to praising his ideas, such as his call to replace flat-rate Medical Services Plan premiums with a system that shifts more of the cost to high-income earners.
Clark ruled that out for the February budget, but said Weaver’s suggestions are refreshing after the negative rhetoric of the NDP.
NDP leader John Horgan said promoting Weaver is just more political tactics by Clark.
“I think they’re trying to draw attention away from us, who I think are doing a relatively effective job, and trying to put a spotlight on someone who may well cut our grass over the long term,” Horgan said.