EDITORIAL: Green mouse may yet roar

Newly elected Green MLA Andrew Weaver may set the tone for party in coming term

The movers and shakers in the B.C. NDP will no doubt lose plenty of sleep given the party’s underwhelming performance in Tuesday’s provincial election.

While its candidates once again rolled to a near sweep in Greater Victoria and Vancouver Island, the NDP has more to think about than simply how to get the better of the B.C. Liberals.

The win by Andrew Weaver of the Green Party over longtime Liberal MLA Ida Chong and tireless NDP campaigner Jessica Van der Veen in Oak Bay-Gordon Head opens the door a crack for a party seen for years as a quirky collection of environmentalists.

In terms of the popular vote, perhaps a better measurement of public support for a party, the Greens fared roughly the same as 2009, taking about eight per cent provincewide.

But over the longer term, the presence of the vocal Weaver in the legislature may give the public a glimpse of just how well a Green party MLA can represent constituents. It’s the old “show me, don’t tell me” scenario.

If people like how the Nobel Prize-winning scientist handles himself and takes the Liberals to task, it may just encourage more voters to step out of their comfort zone and go Green next election.

And that will mostly take votes away from the NDP, which has tried hard to incorporate a business-friendly strategy with being environmentally responsible, so as not to alienate anyone.

It’s tough to play well to both crowds, as the Liberals know. Among the reasons they emerged victorious on election day was they stuck primarily to one message, that of keeping a strong economy and job creation front and centre.

Winning one seat among 85 in the legislature isn’t exactly earth shattering, and the B.C. Greens face their own uncertainty with leader Jane Sterk losing for a second straight time.

But the party is poised to alter B.C.’s political history more than we realize. It just might take a while.