Nelson-Creston BC Green Party candidate Kim Charlesworth brought a guest with her when she spoke at the Community Complex last Tuesday.
Charlesworth was accompanied by her party’s provincial leader, Dr. Andrew Weaver, whose planned earlier visit was postponed after February’s major snow storm.
Charlesworth introduced Weaver to a crowd of about 60, saying that her life was transformed when she and her husband moved to the Kootenays.
“I felt like I had come home,” she said. “I had found my tribe!”
Weaver was elected to the BC Legislature in 2013, representing Oak Bay-Gordon Head on Vancouver Island. He was the first Green MLA in the province. A world-renowned climate scientist, he became the party’s provincial leader in 2015.
“If you had asked me five years ago if I would end up sitting in the Legislature and becoming leader of a provincial party, I would have asked, “Why?” he said.
But then he met BC Green Party leader Jane Sterk, who inspired him to take a break from his academic work and try to affect change at the political level.
“Do we, the present generation, owe anything to future generations?” he asked. “This is not a political decision. Decision makers (of the day) won’t live to see the consequences of their decisions, whereas the people who will not be part of the decision making process today will. This leads to what I call inter-generational inequity.”
For genuine change to occur, he said, young adults will have to vote.
“Only 30 to 40 per cent of young people vote, so most political policies are aimed at seniors to get their votes. And 70 to 80 per cent of them vote,” he said. “Young people have to understand that you can either run away from the system or you can become engaged.”
Sterk encouraged Weaver to run for office, but he declined three times.
“On the fourth time, I said yes. I didn’t know that I would win, but I am a competitor. I give all I’ve got to whatever I do.”
In the 2013 election the Oak Bay-Gordon Head riding drew a 70 per cent voter turnout.
“That’s what I am most proud of,” Weaver said. “Provincially, less than a quarter of eligible voters chose Liberal. That’s a failure of democracy.”
He said he is proud of the BC Green Party’s diversity of candidates, “who are second to none.” The lineup includes six PhD scientists.
“You don’t want too many, though!” he laughed. “Six is enough.”
Weaver said he wants to affect change so that decisions are made with both accountability and compassion.
“We are being governed like a banana republic,” he said, pointing out the huge corporate donations being raked in by the governing Liberal party. “It’s the Wild West here.”
Since banning all corporate donations last September “our fundraising has gone through the roof,” he added.
After 16 years of Liberal reign, Weaver senses “people are desperate for change,” citing income disparity, child poverty (“This should not be happening,”) and affordable housing as key issues.
He said BC’s economic growth is artificial, based on housing prices in the Lower Mainland, Victoria area and, now, Kelowna. He criticized Premier Christy Clark’s focus on liquid natural gas production and export.
“For four years nothing has happened, and now they are so desperate they’ll do whatever it takes,” he said, adding that subsidies to the industry equate to about $440,000 per job, and that all the profits will go off shore..
“Ours is the only generation where our children will not be as well off as we are,” he said. “People want to vote for something instead of against something. We are ready in terms of policy and platform, and we will deal with what needs to be done.”
While components of the BC Green Party platform are slowly being released during the campaign, Weaver pointed out to a key, the introduction of a basic income for all residents.
“That’s more important and more effective than a minimum wage,” he said.
Charlesworth announced this week that she will be visiting Creston with federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May on April 20. She will speak and take questions from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. at the Community Complex.