Meeting, greeting and creating policy that puts people first are all early agenda items for new BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver.
Endorsement was high so Weaver got the early nod from the BC Green Party provincial council. They met and unanimously voted to acclaim the Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA leader several months early.
“I’m excited. It’s a huge honour,” Weaver said after a recent visit to Oak Bay municipal hall for a volunteer luncheon.
“I am greatly humbled by the outpouring of support that I received over the course of this leadership process. There is a lot of work to do in order to get ready for the 2017 election, but it has never been more clear that British Columbians are looking for something new. I am excited to introduce them to the BC Green Party.”
Weaver was the sole applicant for leader and members expressed a desire to have a permanent leader in place for the upcoming Vancouver–Mount Pleasant and Coquitlam–Burke Mountain by-elections.
“The very first task for me will be to attend a council meeting and offer them the vision I did when I declared my candidacy … outline a pathway that we need to follow to 2017,” Weaver said.
That vision includes formal policies, many already well in the works, and targets such as getting a few nominees out of the gate early,
“We have outstanding candidates already expressing an interest to come out,” Weaver said. “The BC Green Party will be seriously contending the ridings, all of them, in B.C. … We’re running to win. We’re not running to finish third.”
Policies already underway include: eliminate MSP premiums, make venture capital work better, keep hunting local and invest in social services insurance.
The current provincial medical services plan acts as “a classic head tax,” Weaver says, advocating a shift to something similar to Ontario, such as a progressive “health care plan” cost attached to the annual income tax return.
Venture capital, already offered by the government, requires some more specific conditions, he said. Language attached to such funding should stipulate that the funds be used as leverage to draw, and maintain, business to B.C.
There should be an ecosystem and science-based approach to wildlife an forest management, putting resident hunters first.
“We hunt for food in British Columbia. For tourism you come and look at wildlife,” he said.
A final, and passionate policy proposal is a social insurance.
Weaver notes the the percentage of the GDP spent on social services is on a consistent downward trend, based on choices made by previous governments.
“In every aspect of our life we take out insurance. … What we’ve been cutting is our social service insurance.”
“We’re all one step away from falling over and getting a brain injury,” he says. “In a fair and caring society, we need an insurance policy so we can all thrive. … It’s not a tax. It’s a society taking out an insurance policy,” he says, noting if they know precisely where funds are allocated, most people would willingly pay.
“We have a compassionate society.”
Weaver also plans to spend the upcoming months getting out, across the province, and greeting people, meeting residents, listening to concerns and stories.