Ankle-biting Andrew Weaver assumes role of Opposition leader

When we last checked in on Andrew Weaver, he had sold the farm.

Since then he has been the antagonist of his feudal lord.

Nary a news cycle survives another Weaver weep on how his governance partner is getting it all wrong. He has arguably been more argumentative in his pact with the BC NDP than in his pique with its BC Liberal predecessors.

Off the top of my head in just the last month, Weaver has wrought:

•condemnation but not cremation over continued NDP freewheeling fundraising, even though it was a critical condition of his alliance;

•accusations of spin of the facts over its supposed grizzly bear hunting ban;

•criticism over its all-too-vague early pledges on housing affordability and spending;

•outrage over the “reckless” elimination of tolls on the Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges;

•defiance over its dithering on ride-sharing services, with his intention to introduce legislation enabling services like Uber and Lyft;

•demands, eventually conceded, that it consult business over its initial 2021 deadline for a $15 minimum wage; and

•disapproval of proposed Insurance Corp. of British Columbia rate increases without a renewed emphasis on finding ways to save funds in such matters as litigation.

I brought out the dictionary, combed its pages and was hard pressed to find any definition of “ally” or “partner” or “collaborator” or “conspirator” that fits his description.

John Horgan must approach an Andrew Weaver blog post the way Barack Obama must approach a Donald Trump tweet.

Formality be darned, Weaver has taken up the role of leader of the official Opposition. In this context the NDP might well say: With a friend like this, who needs friends?

But I suppose he is a friend indeed, as the NDP is a friend in need – at least until next spring, by which time the modest list above will have metastasized into a sequel of War and Peace. About that time, the NDP will capitalize on Liberal regrouping under a new leader and seek a more thorough and durable mandate to dispatch Weaver to the dust.

What isn’t clear in the meantime is who benefits from this nettlesome, ankle-biting, under-the-skin behaviour.

It doesn’t make a minority government look any better to have such dissidence in ranks supposedly coherent.

It doesn’t make the governing party look any better by constantly disappointing a colleague supposedly aligned.

And it doesn’t make the colleague look any better by huffing and puffing and never blowing the house down.

About the best we could say today about the minority governance is that it is surviving despite and not because of itself. It is mainly sailing on the NDP gust of wind. Its most celebrated seemingly collective accomplishments – getting a legal scholar to help fight Kinder Morgan and getting a review of Site C – are hardly sterling examples of one plus one equalling more than two. The courts could clobber Kinder Morgan on their own, and the British Columbia Utilities Commission review is a risky venture that could embarrass the “GreeNDP” combo.

What Weaver seeks, at all costs, is what he will have by the spring: his holy grail, a plan for proportional representation in the B.C. legislature, to be sought in a plebiscite provincially as part of the October 2018 municipal elections.

All fine, except the bad news for Weaver is that the NDP will only tepidly care for this issue if there is an election in the spring. He has to keep them alive, and hope they wish to retain his services, until after that plebiscite.

Like the Liberals, though, the NDP has only to lose in this matter. Why would it make this a priority when a majority without the Green distraction is within sight?

Thus, Weaver will have wagered on proportional representation, supported things he fundamentally opposed along the way to get a shot at it, found his party hammered at the election, then found himself alone in subsequent hard advocacy for it.

It sure looked so much better in June.

Kirk LaPointe is Business in Vancouver’s vice-president of audience and business development.

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