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Ending an era of Big Money in BC politics

Today was an historic day for British Columbia’s democracy. The unparalleled influence of corporate and union donations, that has become a defining feature of what is broken in BC politics, is coming to an end with the introduction of Bill 3 – Election Amendment Act, 2017.

The timing of this bill is particularly historic for the BC Greens as this month also marks one year since we banned corporate and union donations to our own party.

This bill is also historic for another reason: it is the first bill to be introduced that is a foundational piece of our historic Confidence and Supply Agreement. It is a product of good faith and no surprises consultations with the government.

The consultations on this bill began months ago, when we were at the negotiating table with the BC NDP following the results of the May 9 election, and have been ongoing since then as we have worked out the details. Its introduction demonstrates the opportunity we have to change the way politics is done in this province – to put partisan politics aside and put the interests of people first as two parties work together to develop groundbreaking legislation.

Our top priorities were to ensure that this bill:

  • bans corporate and union donations;
  • has one of the lowest contribution limits in the country;
  • reduces overall spending limits so that elections are about policies, not money;
  • closes loopholes to avoid a US-style Super PAC system where money flows to unaccountable third parties;
  • was tabled early in this session of the legislature.

In the days ahead, our caucus will be reviewing the bill in great detail to ensure that it is:

  • comprehensive;
  • creates a level playing field;
  • truly puts people back at the centre of our democracy.

We look forward to engaging with our colleagues on both sides of the house in good faith and no surprises to ensure that this legislation adequately addresses the issues with the current system.

Below is the media release that we issued today.

Media Release

B.C. Green caucus statement on government’s introduction of campaign finance bill
For immediate release
September 18, 2017

VICTORIA, B.C. – Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green Party, and Adam Olsen, B.C. Green caucus spokesperson for democratic reform, responded to the introduction of the Elections Amendment Act 2017. An agreement to reform B.C.’s electoral finance laws was a flagship component of the Confidence and Supply Agreement signed between Weaver and Premier Horgan and all members of their caucuses.

“This is a historic day for our province’s democracy,” Weaver said.

“Big money has been the defining feature of what is broken in B.C. politics. Now, one year after B.C. Greens banned corporate and union donations to our own party, we will ban it province-wide once and for all. I am delighted that 2017 will go down in history as the last big money election in B.C.”

“The undue influence of special interests through our province’s lax campaign finance laws has led to cynicism and to people feeling like their voices are not heard,” Olsen continued.

“British Columbians should be able to trust their government to put them – not special interests – first. This legislation is a big step towards restoring that trust.

“In our consultations leading up to the introduction of this legislation, our caucus’ core goals were to ban on corporate and union donations, to ensure B.C. is among the lowest individual contribution limits in the country and that this happened immediately as one of the first bills tabled in the legislature.

“I thank Mr. Eby and his office for their diligent work bringing this bill forward so early in the session. In the days and weeks ahead, we will work with the government to ensure that this legislation is comprehensive and adequately addresses the issues with the current system.”


Media contact
Jillian Oliver, Press Secretary
+1 778-650-0597 | jillian.oliver@leg.bc.ca

B.C. Liberals reintroduce Elections Amendment Act bill

Today in the Legislature Andrew Wilkinson, the MLA for Vancouver Quilchena, reintroduced the Elections Amendment Act that the BC Liberals had initially introduced this past summer. The bill did not pass First Reading in the summer as the then government had yet to test confidence. Today the bill passed First Reading and so will be printed shortly.

The BC NDP promised a bill on electoral finance reform that would ban big money this session. It’s exciting that all parties are in agreement. It looks like the banning of big money in BC Politics is imminent.

Below is the media statement that I released to day on the new Private Member’s bill.

Media Statement

Weaver statement on B.C. Liberals’ reintroduction of the Elections Amendment Act
For immediate release
September 13, 2017

VICTORIA, B.C. – Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green caucus, responded today to the reintroduction of the Elections Amendment Act by B.C. Liberal MLA Andrew Wilkinson. Wilkinson first introduced the bill, aimed at B.C.’s campaign finance laws, in June prior to the B.C. Liberals having tested confidence following the loss of their majority in the May election.

“After B.C. was internationally derided as the wild west of politics due to our lack of campaign finance laws, I am delighted that we finally have all-party agreement on the need for reform,” Weaver said.

“I am also encouraged by our good-faith consultations with the government and by the Attorney General’s statement today that the legislation resulting from our consultations will be tabled next week.

“Now that there is a government that has the confidence of the house, the B.C. Green caucus looks forward to genuine, productive debate in good faith on this crucial issue so that we can finally get big money out of B.C. politics.”


Media contact
Jillian Oliver, Press Secretary
+1 778-650-0597 | jillian.oliver@leg.bc.ca

Our statement on the 10th anniversary of UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

B.C. Green caucus statement on the 10th anniversary of UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
For immediate release
September 13, 2017


VICTORIA, B.C. – Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green caucus, and Adam Olsen, B.C. Green caucus spokesperson for the Ministry of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation, issued the following statement in recognition of the tenth anniversary of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP).

“UNDRIP is a landmark acknowledgement of the rights of Indigenous people across the world,” Weaver said.

“I am proud that the commitment to adopt UNDRIP is a foundational piece of our Confidence and Supply Agreement with the B.C. NDP and our caucus looks forward to supporting measures to establish a true government-to-government relationship with B.C.’s Indigenous peoples.”

“Today is a day to celebrate the fact that we have finally reached the point where we are beyond debating whether the minimum standards of UNDRIP should be endorsed,” Olsen said.

“By endorsing UNDRIP and pledging to work together to implement it, we are turning the page on denial of Indigenous peoples and their rights. We must now work together, in partnership, to identify how to implement and operationalize these standards. Doing so will require honesty about our deep and recent history of colonization, with all of the injustices and wrongs that term entails.

“Through working together we can show our children and grandchildren how we can at once create a more just society, address historic wrongs, and build prosperity for the future.”


Media contact
Jillian Oliver, Press Secretary
+1 778-650-0597 | jillian.oliver@leg.bc.ca

Budget Update 2017 demonstrates value of minority governments

Today in the BC Legislature the government tabled its budget. I will be speaking to the budget later this week during the legislature debates. In the meantime, I issued a statement summarizing our reactions.

I am absolutely thrilled with with the introduction of this budget. It’s a budget that puts people first. And it’s a budget that shows that minority governments can work.

Below is a copy of my statement.

Media Statement

Budget Update 2017 demonstrates value of minority governments, underscores need for long-term economic vision
For immediate release
September 11, 2017

VICTORIA, B.C. – Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green caucus, responded to the Budget 2017 September Update delivered by Finance Minister Carole James today.

“We are thrilled with the introduction of this budget that puts people first,” Weaver said.

“The budget provisions for education, child care, affordable housing and essential services are long overdue investments in our future. We are also delighted that the pathway has been set to eliminate MSP premiums, a priority that BC Greens have championed for years.

“A strong sustainable economy is essential for the well-being of British Columbians. It is exciting to see that the key budget initiatives aimed at growing and diversifying B.C.’s economy originated in the B.C. Greens’ platform. The ideas of an Innovation Commissioner to champion the B.C. tech sector and the Emerging Economy Task Force to address the changing nature of business were born out of extensive consultations we conducted with businesses and entrepreneurs. The Fair Wages Commission and the basic income pilot project will improve income security for British Columbians while the carbon tax measures will help spur innovation in our economy. I look forward to seeing them implemented so that we can ensure B.C. is a leader in the changing global economy.

“The budget update also underscores the need for a long-term vision for the economic future of this province. While traditional indicators like GDP growth and job creation are encouraging, they do not tell the whole story of the health of our economy. In particular, it is worrisome that B.C.’s economic growth remains so dependent on the housing market, the growth of which has priced many British Columbians out of their own communities. The global economy is rapidly changing, with challenges and opportunities arising from trends like technological automation, climate change and the evolving nature of work. It is crucial that B.C. is prepared to address these issues head-on so that we can ensure British Columbians across the province can continue to enjoy a good quality of life for generations to come.”


Media contact
Jillian Oliver, Press Secretary
+1 778-650-0597 | jillian.oliver@leg.bc.ca

Issue-specific quotations

Minority Government

“Over the past few months, leaders from all three parties have acknowledged that British Columbians want us to work across party lines. There’s no question that this is a significant departure from the hyper-partisan, divisive B.C. Legislature. However, we can deliver on this promise for British Columbians if we put good public policy ahead of partisan calculation, if we strive for respectful and nuanced political discourse and if we remember the values and goals we share.

Affordability and housing

“British Columbians across the province continue to feel the squeeze of the affordability crisis. I am glad to hear that they will get some relief in the form of reduced MSP premiums beginning in 2018. However, as I stated during the election, we don’t need a plan to come up with a plan to eliminate this regressive tax. Best practices are already available from other provinces that have rolled premiums into the income tax system in a progressive fashion. I urge government to follow their lead, rather than kicking the can down the road by creating an unnecessary task force.

“I am glad that the government has increased spending to the Residential Tenancy Branch, which has not had the resources to adequately protect the rights of tenants and landlords, especially as the vacancy rate has diminished. I am also pleased that the government is investing in affordable rental stock and modular houses for homeless British Columbians.

“It is encouraging that the Minister acknowledged that we need an integrated approach to housing affordability. The B.C. Green caucus maintains and has communicated to the government through our consultations with the government that there are far more effective policies than a rebate that will provide renters with a mere dollar a day in financial relief. Not only will the rebate be low impact, it will also provide an incentive for landlords to raise already-high rents. This minority government presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to collaborate to develop good public policy, rather than simply having one party push through its entire agenda. Moving forward, we will advocate for more impactful policies that will truly address the affordability crisis facing so many British Columbians.”

Education and child care funding

“I am also pleased to see an increase in funding to public education, which was the number one funding commitment made in our platform. Education is the best investment government can make, and I am thrilled that our public schools will receive additional support so they can better do the vital work of preparing the next generation of British Columbians for their future.

“It is also good to see an increase for childcare funding. The cost of childcare is a major financial burden on families. We look forward to working with the government to incorporate our best ideas on how to improve B.C.’s child care. In particular, the B.C. Green caucus’ vision for childcare is one that is means-based and does not require up-front out-of-pocket fees. We will also emphasize investment in Early Childhood Education, which has been shown to significantly improve educational outcomes for children by giving them the best possible head start.”

Carbon tax and climate change initiatives

“B.C. was once a leader in addressing climate change, and the dismantling of B.C.’s leadership on this file by the past Liberal government was unnecessary and alarming. I am glad to see that the new government has taken the first step towards getting us back on track by unfreezing the carbon tax. B.C. has already proven that the carbon tax is not an impediment to economic growth. Further, if the carbon tax is working as it should by providing a disincentive to produce emissions, the tax should eventually disappear as we transition to the low-carbon economy. In the meantime, the wildfires that devastated many parts of our province this summer and the increasing costs of natural disasters in other jurisdictions around the world highlight the need to mitigate the effects of climate change. I look forward to working with the government to come up with strategies to help B.C. businesses and communities adapt.”

Opioid and mental health crises

“I am glad that this government will make significant investments towards tackling the opioid and mental health crises. The crisis is continuing to grow, imposing a significant strain on government and non-profit services and programs. It is essential that our approach consider all the evidence and take immediate action to address this crisis.”

My brief statement on the BC Government Throne Speech

Today in the Legislature the Lieutenant Governor read the Speech from the Throne. I was of course very pleased with the message delivered in the Speech as it reflected much of what the BC NDP and the BC Greens had agreed to in our Confidence and Supply Agreement.

Below is the statement that I issued in response. I also prepared some comments that are available as a brief Facebook Video.

I want to emphasize that I am delighted with the Speech from the Throne. Without a doubt, this is the first Speech from the Throne that has focused on making lives better for the people of British Columbia in quite some time. The BC Green Caucus is looking forward to the next four years.

Media Statement

B.C. Green caucus statement on Speech from the Throne
For immediate release
September 8, 2017

VICTORIA, B.C. – Andrew Weaver, leader of the B.C. Green Party, responded to the Speech from the Throne.

“Four months after British Columbians cast their ballots, I am pleased to see so many B.C. Green ideas included in the new blueprint for government,” Weaver said.

“The Throne Speech highlighted many of the priorities outlined in our Confidence and Supply Agreement. These are policies that we believe we can advance together by moving beyond divisive partisan spin to truly address the challenges and opportunities facing British Columbians. Adam, Sonia and I look forward to working collaboratively with the government on these issues to deliver effective, well-considered public policy.

“These priorities highlight the difference that Greens made in the last election. This session, we will finally see corporate and union donations banned following the lead we took a year ago in banning them from our Party. We will see lobbying reform, a B.C. Green initiative, which will go even further towards ending the undue influence of special interests in our politics. B.C. will also have an Innovation Commissioner, one of the ideas in our emerging economy platform that will help ensure B.C.’s long term economic prosperity. I am also particularly encouraged that the government intends to increase funding for public education, which was the B.C. Greens’ number one priority in this election and is the best investment government can make.

“There are also initiatives outlined today that are not included in our Agreement. As an opposition caucus, we will determine whether to support, propose amendments to or oppose these initiatives on an issue-by-issue basis based on what we believe is in the best interests of British Columbians.

“We will not always agree with everything the government does. As with any relationship, this disagreement is healthy. All three parties share many values and goals, though we might sometimes differ on the best ways to implement them. There is much we can accomplish together if we are willing to engage in thoughtful, productive debate and to consistently put the interests of our constituents first.”


Media contact
Jillian Oliver, Press Secretary
+1 778-650-0597 | jillian.oliver@leg.bc.ca