Andrew Weaver stepping down as leader of B.C. Green Party, won't run for re-election 

click to enlarge B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver announces that he won't be running as leader in the next provincial election during a press conference at the Hall of Honour at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, October 7, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
  • B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver announces that he won't be running as leader in the next provincial election during a press conference at the Hall of Honour at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, October 7, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Andrew Weaver is stepping down as leader of the Green Party and will not run for re-election in 2021.

"It is after a great deal of thought and reflection that I am announcing today that I will not be seeking another term as MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head," Weaver said Monday. "I am making this announcement now so that the party has enough time to start the process of electing a new leader in preparation for the next provincial election."

Weaver, who reduced his workload after a health scare landed him in hospital a few weeks ago, made the announcement Monday morning, on the first day of the fall session of the legislature.

However, he said his decision was not linked to the recent health incident.

B.C. Green Party Provincial Council will meet later this month to put a leadership contest committee in place. The leadership contest is expected to culminate at the party convention to be held in Nanaimo in June 2020.

Weaver said he will continue in his role as leader until a successor has been chosen.

Premier John Horgan said he didn't imagine when Weaver was elected in 2013 that the two would have much in common, but they have become friends.

"I'm disappointed he has made the decision, but I absolutely understand it," he said.

Horgan said Weaver's decision will not change the agreement between the government and Green caucus in any way. The three Green MLAs prop up the minority NDP government, who hold 41 seats. The Opposition B.C. Liberals have 42 seats. Speaker Darryl Plecas sits as an Independent.

"The decision not to run for re-election has not been easy for me," Weaver said. "I feel a deep responsibility and pride for the role the B.C. Greens have played in getting the province back on track to meet its climate commitments and to reframe climate change as an economic opportunity - instead of a purely environmental catastrophe."

Weaver said he became leader out of civic duty and on principle rather than out of a desire for power. "I had watched with dismay as our province slipped from being a climate leader to climate laggard."

In 2013, Weaver left his post as Canada Research Chair in climate modelling and analysis at the University of Victoria. He was elected in May 2013 in Oak Bay-Gordon Head as the first provincial Green politician in Canada, and acclaimed as the party's leader in 2015.

He ran with a focus of making a difference in the area of climate change, explaining he viewed the B.C. Green Party as the best vehicle to do that work.

Horgan said Weaver's legacy "will be his passion for climate action and his participation in the Clean B.C. plan, which leads the country and would not be as robust as it is today if not for his contribution."

The premier, B.C. Environment Minister George Heyman, and Weaver announced the plan in December 2018. It includes aims to reduce climate pollution by shifting homes, vehicles, industry and business from fossil fuels to renewable energies.

The B.C. Greens disagree, however, on the NDP government's pursuit of the Liquefied Natural Gas Canada project in Kitimat because of the pollution it will cause.

Horgan said in 2013 as members of the opposition he and Weaver "didn't have a lot to do with each other. We were talking about different things at different times."

And even though they both grew up in the capital region, they didn't have any historical connections: Horgan went to Reynolds Secondary School in Saanich and Weaver went to Oak Bay High.

"Many expected it wouldn't last," Horgan said. "I've enjoyed working with Andrew. I'll continue to work with Andrew. Much done; more to do."

Working on the same issues that matter to British Columbians has "focused our minds, it's focused our relationship and I'm very proud to call Andrew my friend, and I wouldn't have said that five years ago."

ceharnett@timescolonist.com

— With files from Canadian Press

This article originally appeared here.

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