Congratulations to the BC Greens! Not only has party leader Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Andrew Weaver been re-elected, he will now be joined by new MLAs, Sonia Furstenau in Cowichan Valley and and Adam Olsen in Saanich North and the Islands. Although Green candidates have broken through in legislatures here and there, this historic election is the first to have elected a Provincial Green Caucus. Just as in the USA and UK, Canada’s unfair First Past The Post electoral system makes it exceptionally difficult for small party and independent candidates to get elected. And even when they are, Canadian legislatures have added another artificial barrier: a political party can be duly registered, and run candidates and even manage to win seats in the legislature, but the legislature has imposed a threshold before an elected party is entitled to receive additional perks. In BC the threshold is 4 seats, so our new Green caucus is one seat shy of official party status.
Although the dust hasn’t quite settled yet, neither the BC Liberals or BC NDP won a majority in the election. If this is still the case after recounts and absentee ballots have been incorporated into the tally, the BC Greens will hold the balance of power. Leader Andrew Weaver has expressed a willingness to work with whoever necessary to make government work, but his two non-negotiable points are legislation to get big money out of politics, and Proportional Representation. Lets keep our fingers crossed for that excellent BC outcome!
Since much of the rest of the world’s democracies use Proportional Representation, this is not the case elsewhere. Just now Australia has 9 Green Senators in their STV Proportional Representation Senate, but only recently elected their very first MP to their winner-take-all House of Representatives. New Zealand has fourteen MPs ~ and they only adopted MMP after a 1993 Referendum. There are currently 50 sitting Green Members of the European Parliament. Although the discriminatory barriers against small parties and independent candidates in winner-take-all systems like ours stack the deck against Greens in Canada and the UK (and the USA), we are way behind the wave of Green Candidates being elected at all levels of government in the 90+ countries that already use Proportional Representation.
It took some doing, but our current Party Leader Elizabeth May broke through to become Canada’s first elected Green MP. She was followed at the provincial level by Andrew Weaver in BC, Peter Bevan-Baker in PEI, and David Coon in New Brunswick. Now it’s time to meet the BC Greens:
Adam Olsen, Saanich North and the Islands
Sonia Furstenau, Cowichan Valley
Andrew Weaver, Oak Bay-Gordon Head
Check out our Green World to find out more about Greens elected in Canada and abroad.
the excellent photo of BC’s new Green Caucus is © by Laura Colpitts is used with permission