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BC Green Party may have bigger than expected impact on provincial election

(Martin MacMahon, NEWS 1130 Photo)

Some think the BC Greens are punching above their weight in the political arena

Is three a crowd? Analysis of what impact the Green Party could have on the BC election

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) – The provincial legislature has wrapped up its final sitting before the spring election and our politicians are getting set for more sniping ahead of the vote, but should they be paying more attention to party number three?

The BC Green Party, under Leader Andrew Weaver, may be punching above its weight in the political arena, including Weaver’s private members’ bill to ban restaurants from requiring female staff to wear high heels.

The initiative may have died when the legislature adjourned yesterday but the idea has had the support of Premier Christy Clark and Labour Minister Shirley Bond, who has directed her ministry to take action on the issue.

“I think Weaver has had some influence on the Liberals in small ways and maybe a slightly bigger influence in the back rooms,” says David Moscrop, a political science professor at UBC. “To some extent when these ideas get picked up, they are being co-opted. That’s one of the tactics that bigger parties use to manage threats from smaller parties,” he tells NEWS 1130.

However Moscrop points out if the Green Party were a real threat to the political establishment, the BC Liberals would be pushing back on Weaver much harder than they have been over the past few months.

That being said, he adds the BC Liberals have every interest in trying to divide progressive voters ahead of the election. “It’s all the better for them if the vote gets split between the Greens and the BC NDP and it preserves the Liberal majority. And if the election is going to be close, then they have even more interest in ensuring that’s done because a point or two could end up turning the tide,” Moscrop explains.

A stronger showing for the Green Party could also end up being a problem for the NDP, but Moscrop believes support for Weaver’s team will dip as “NDP progressives start to come home.”

“I think The Greens will add a little more excitement to the campaign. Andrew Weaver will force the BC Liberals and the NDP to think and talk about things they might not otherwise think or talk about, but I don’t think he will be a real force.”

Where Weaver could make the biggest impact, Moscrop believes, is if it ends up being a tight election race between the two main parties. “Even the little bits of support that Weaver might hive off from either the Liberals or the NDP might end up being significant. He’s certainly going to be worth watching. His numbers might be small, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t going to have a huge impact on the election.”

British Columbians go to the polls in the general election on May 9th.