When the security guard asked Andrew Weaver if he wanted to pick up his access card to the legislature, his eyes lit up, and a big grin appeared on his face.
“Now this is pretty cool,” he said, as he stepped into a backroom office. “Now it’s pretty official.”
Mr. Weaver then headed out onto the front steps, posing with his new pass as his press secretary took a photo of him with an iPhone.
There wasn’t too much time to soak up the moment, however, as there were more interviews to do. By noon, he had already done 19, with requests not only coming from local B.C. outlets, but from major international ones like the BBC and Al Jazeera.
Everyone wanted to talk to Mr. Weaver – a man who made Canadian history Tuesday night by becoming the first Green Party candidate ever to be elected to a provincial legislature. Mr. Weaver defeated Liberal incumbent Ida Chong by nearly 2,500 votes in the riding of Oak Bay-Gordon Head on Vancouver Island.
The trepidation Mr. Weaver said he had the previous night had turned into excitement, knowing that very soon he will be sworn in to represent his constituents as an MLA.
But the University of Victoria climate scientist, 50, conceded that he’s not quite ready yet to play politician. He said he’s got a lot to learn before heading into the legislature, a lot to sort out before making the plunge.
“There’s a learning curve, you have to learn the ropes before you start doing stuff, there’s things I want to do, but I want to do them right,” he said while driving from downtown Victoria back into Oak Bay, a community he was raised in, where he raised his family and spent his career.
“I joke, but I’m dead serious, there’s probably a manual for MLAs and I have to read that cover to cover. I have to read it from beginning to end, to know what the parliamentary rules are, the legislative procedures are, to know the inside outs of the system because I want to do things properly.”
On Wednesday morning, before his last two interviews of the day, Mr. Weaver headed to the bank to renew his mortgage on a second home he owns north of Nanaimo. After that, he went to UVic to sign off on some expense reports for some of his students.
“I’m wondering more right now about the transition at my lab,” he said, adding that someone else will have to take it over. He said he still hopes to supervise some of his PhD and masters students.
Mr. Weaver said he will be a strong voice in the legislature opposing the Liberals’ plan to expand liquefied natural gas production, calling it a “pipe dream.” He said that it makes little sense for the government to invest in LNG for Asian markets when China has already signed a long-term deal with Russia, a country with a far greater supply.
But he’s quick to point out that he also didn’t run to become a combative politician, adding that he wants to work with both the major parties on a number of issues affecting British Columbia.
“I just hope everyone can rise above this partisan political nature. I really want to work with everyone. But you have to get beyond this tribalism,” he said. “I think that’s partly why the NDP didn’t get elected. There was a bit of a ‘you’re either with us or you’re against us’ mentality in some of the more ideological elements of the party and I think it turned people off.”
Prior to the election, it was speculated that Mr. Weaver would take over as Green Party Leader if current leader Jane Sterk failed to win her riding. Ms. Sterk did in fact lose on Tuesday.
But Mr. Weaver said he visited Ms. Sterk early Wednesday morning and asked her to stay on. A spokesperson for Ms. Sterk confirmed that she will remain as party leader for now.
“I really value her leadership in terms of policy developments, the connections she has. She’s built the party in the last three years,” Mr. Weaver said. “I think it’s in the best interests of the party to have Jane as the leader.”