Tim Collins/News staff
The B.C. Green Party came to Sidney this past weekend for it’s annual convention, its first since co-operating with the New Democratic Party (NDP) to unseat the 16 year Liberal government of Christy Clark. About 350 delegates attended the event at Sidney’s SHOAL Centre for a two-day meeting that emphasized the past accomplishments of the party and set the stage for the future.
“This is a momentous year for B.C. Greens and I’m delighted to attend our first convention in which a B.C. Green caucus is featured,” said Andrew Weaver, Leader of the B.C. Green Party.
“I look forward to meeting with the B.C. Greens to celebrate our achievements of the last year and to discuss how we can build on the incredible momentum behind our party following the historic May 9 election.”
That election saw the Green Party receive 332,387 votes, or 16.84 per cent of the total, a vote count that led to the party winning three seats in the provincial legislature. Due to the slim differential between the then governing Liberals and the NDP, the Greens were left holding the balance of power and at the end of May Weaver announced that the Greens had agreed to a four-year Confidence and Supply Agreement with the NDP to support the NDP and provide a “stable minority government over the four year term of this next session.”
The keynote address of the convention was delivered by Dan O’Neill, leader of the Economics and Policy Sustainability Research Group at the University of Leeds. His research has, in recent years, focused on the changes required to achieve a sustainable economy within planetary boundaries (a steady-state economy). He has developed a system of national indicators to measure how close countries truly are to that steady state economy and what proximity to such an economy means to their social performance.The convention also featured plenaries, including a panel discussion with the B.C. Green Caucus, as well as a series of workshops.
What some considered the high note of the proceedings came with the opening comments of a series of speakers including Adam Olsen, who energized the crowd with words full of optimism for greater things in the future.
One of the important themes of the convention involved the challenge the Greens experienced in being able to field a slate of candidates that fully reflected the diversity of British Columbia, according to Stefan Jonsson, the party’s director of communications.
“That fact was explored openly and honestly and we managed to identify some concrete ways to move forward and ensure that we reflect the rich diversity of this province in the next election,” he said.
Another factor high on the agenda involved what the introduction of some sort of proportional representation might have on future elections. With a nearly 17 per cent of the total votes already in the Green Party’s favour, any proportional system would invariably lead to a greater number of Green MLA’s in the House and possibly lead to a shift in the way the voters in B.C. cast their votes, diminishing the “strategic voting” that has occurred in the past, acknowledged Jonsson.
“It was not as much the “balance of power” that British Columbians gave us on May 9 as it is the “balance of responsibility”. We are part of redefining politics in this province and we take that very seriously,” explained Jonsson.