As the B.C. legislature prepares to resume sitting in June after the disruption caused by COVID-19, former B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver has roasted his former party colleagues for caring more about their own re-election prospects than the environment-focused party’s principles.
Weaver has vowed to continue supporting the B.C. NDP minority government since announcing in January he was leaving the B.C. Green Party as well as its leadership. But in a weekend comment on social media, he said that wasn’t the case after Premier John Horgan granted tax concessions for the development of the LNG Canada export project.
“My former colleagues Adam Olsen and Sonia Furstenau were afraid to stand up to the B.C. NDP with regard to the LNG development,” Weaver wrote on Twitter May 23. “I was ready to go to election, but in my opinion, they were more interested in re-election than they were about standing up for B.C. Green principles.”
Weaver was responding to Furstenau’s endorsement of a four-day work week proposal considered by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. “This is an absolutely kooky idea,” Weaver told Furstenau, who is seeking the B.C. Green leadership in a contest that has been stalled by the coronavirus pandemic. “It is far more complicated than just a few sound bites and a tweet.”
My former colleagues @AdamPOlsen & @SoniaFurstenau were afraid to stand up to the BC NDP wrt to the LNG development. I was ready to go to election, but in my opinion, they were more interested in re-election than they were about standing up for @BCGreen principles.— Andrew Weaver (@AJWVictoriaBC) May 24, 2020
Weaver led a B.C. Greens protest after Horgan helped secure the LNG Canada and Coastal Gaslink pipeline project by removing an LNG income tax imposed by former premier Christy Clark. Horgan also extended B.C. Hydro’s commercial electricity rate to LNG Canada’s Kitimat-based project and deferred provincial sales tax payment until it begins shipping liquefied natural gas to Asia.
A walkout of all three B.C. Green MLAs in April 2019 resulted in the opposition B.C. Liberals winning a vote to keep the project agreement with LNG Canada public.
“This is the B.C. NDP and B.C. Liberals’ legislation,” Weaver wrote on Twitter after the walkout. “They now walk hand in hand in giving handouts to a fossil fuel project that will be Canada’s largest source of emissions.”
But the protest was symbolic, since the B.C. Liberals supported LNG Canada along with the NDP, resulting in support of 84 MLAs to three. And as Weaver quit the Green leadership and the party in January 2020, he released a letter to Horgan that reiterated his support for the minority government and the NDP’s CleanBC plan for reducing greenhouse gases that Weaver co-authored.
CleanBC includes such far-off goals as restricting new vehicle sales to zero-emission models by 2040. Before it was agreed to, Weaver argued that the LNG Canada project would reverse any greenhouse gas gains the province could make.
Weaver and the two remaining B.C. Green MLAs have supported the NDP minority in votes, including crucial “confidence” votes on spending that could result in the defeat of the government and an election call. Green MLAs were part of a one-day emergency session of the legislature March 25 that gave the Horgan government $50 billion in temporary spending authority to keep the B.C. government in operation, including a $5 billion contingency fund to cover cash payments to individuals that plunged the province into deficit.
The $40 billion LNG Canada project is considered the largest private sector investment in Canadian history, linking northeast B.C. and Alberta shale gas deposits with customers in China, Japan, Korea and Malaysia.