Weaver makes Green leadership bid official

Deputy leader of the B.C. Green Party officially declared his candidacy for leadership of the provincial Green Party Tuesday evening

The province needs new leadership, says Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Andrew Weaver, and he plans to lead the charge.

The deputy leader of the B.C. Green Party officially declared his candidacy for leadership of the provincial Green Party on Tuesday evening at the University Club of Victoria.

“I think British Columbia needs a new direction … we have lived for too long through this dichotomy of left versus right,” he said prior to the event.

“In my view there’s nothing new or particularly democratic about the NDP or liberal about the Liberals … I think it’s time for us to create a third viable option.”

In order to compete in every riding come the 2017 election, the party needs three things, people, funding and policy, he says.

“We have to attract quality candidates, we need money … so we can compete with these others and we need policy,” he said. “We’re well on the way to policy, we’ve got a lot of people.”

He also shared his idea of what a cutting-edge, 21st century economy would look like in the province, including not relying solely on liquid natural gas, but rather developing an innovative, resilient, diverse, and sustainable economy.

“Natural gas has not been nor will it be anytime in the near future a solution … the price of gas is too low, the market is too saturated,” he said.

“We are the most beautiful place in the world to live. That allows us to attract business in highly mobile sectors. We can offer quality of life.”

Investment in education for 21st century industries such as biotech, high tech and clean tech.

“We should be investing in up-and-coming sectors like the clean tech sector, and creative economy that create well-paying, stable long-term, local jobs and that grow our economy without sacrificing our environment,” he said.

With an education system ranked among the best in the world, these are things we should be capitalizing on, he says.

“The future economy of B.C. includes a skilled workforce which means investments of education,” he said, noting “there are ways of doing better that make sure we don’t leave people behind.”

“Public education represents perhaps the most important investment government can make for the prosperity of our province … public education is absolutely critical in teaching the next generation of British Columbians to think critically, contribute responsibly to society, and become the leaders of tomorrow,” he said during the event Tuesday night.

Investment, he says includes finding new, progressive funding sources, dismantling the BC Public School Employers’ Association and developing a new relationship with teachers and customizing education needs for individual communities, noting the needs are different in Haida Gwaii than Surrey.

He also proposes to eliminate medical services plan premiums that “unfairly burden low and fixed income British Columbians”.

Shift to alternatives such as health premiums paid through the personal income tax systems avoiding flat-rate premiums as well as addressing gaps in primary care such as doctor shortages and long wait times to get an appointment.

“Unfortunately, this can be costly for both patients and our health system, as a lack of follow-up and co-ordination can mean problems are missed or poorly managed,” he said, adding nurse practitioners could help close some of the gaps.

Dec. 1 is the deadline for candidates to lead the Green Party of B.C. As of Oak Bay News deadline, only Weaver had tossed his hat in the ring. The party is expected to vote early next year for the leader to take them to the 2017 election.