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B.C. Greens won’t topple NDP government over Site C decision, Weaver says

BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver and B.C. Premier John Horgan speak in Victoria on Sept. 18, 2017.

CHAD HIPOLITO/THE CANADIAN PRESS

BC Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver says he and his caucus will not topple the BC NDP government despite their anger and disappointment over the government's decision to proceed with the Site C hydroelectric dam.

The NDP is in power in B.C. for the first time in 16 years thanks to support from the three members of the Green caucus, who signed a governing agreement with the New Democrats that included sending the project for review to the B.C. Utilities Commission.

The commission raised concerns about the project, suggesting it was unlikely to be completed in the allotted time and likely to go over budget. But the commission did not outright recommend shutting it down. However, Mr. Weaver said in Victoria that the conclusions of the commission review made the case for an end to Site C.

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On Monday, Premier John Horgan said with a "heavy heart" that the NDP would proceed with the project because too much has been spent on it already, and it would cost $4-billion to shut it down. The dam is now set to cost $10.7-billion by the time it is completed in 2024.

"Does this mean we're going to topple the government? No. I've signalled that publicly for quite some time," said Mr. Weaver, but added that the Greens would take a close look at the project going forward.

B.C. Premier says the best decision for the future of the province is to complete the controversial Site C hydroelectric dam The Canadian Press

He said the Greens would regularly let the NDP know how upset they are about the decision. "Frankly their own supporters are going to let them know how upset they are. You can see that on Twitter."

Asked what it would take for the Greens to pull their support from the NDP, Mr. Weaver said he would not answer such a hypothetical question. "I don't even entertain that because, for me, it's about working together. We're elected to work together. We're elected to give certainty.

"We're not elected to pretend we're playing baseball and I have the bat and ball and I am going to pick it up and go home."

Mr. Weaver said the Greens have been criticized as the green tail wagging the orange NDP dog. "Here's an example where the green tail is trying to wag that orange dog and that orange dog isn't listening."

On the weekend, Mr. Weaver said, on social media, that Energy Minister Michelle Mungall should be recalled by voters in her Nelson-Creston riding if the project proceeded. Before the NDP came to power this past summer, Ms. Mungall expressed opposition to Site C.

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In Victoria, Ms. Mungall shrugged off the threat of recall. "I appreciate that Mr. Weaver takes to Twitter to share his views," Ms. Mungall said, adding she is proud of the work the NDP and her constituents have done since she became an MLA.

"We've been able to work very well together over the last eight years and I really hope, going forward, that we can continue to do that," Ms. Mungall told a news conference.

Mr. Weaver also said Agriculture Minister Lana Popham has to be held accountable for her past opposition to Site C.

Mr. Weaver said the Greens would not participate in a recall, but have been contacted by voters in Ms. Mungall's riding to recall her and other MLAs.

At the same news conference, Premier John Horgan says he is counting on the BC Green Party continuing to support the NDP government despite the Site C announcement.

"I am fairly confident that though Mr. Weaver and his colleagues disagree with us on this decision that it won't have an impact on the long-term viability of the government," Mr. Horgan told a news conference, acknowledging Green anger over the government move.

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Heading into last spring's election campaign, Mr. Horgan expressed reservations about Site C, but never said he would scrap the project. Instead, he said he wanted the project sent to the utilities commission for a review that would inform an NDP government's policy on the project.

The BC Liberals, during their 16 years in power, launched Site C, saying the dam would provide needed power for generations. As the NDP considered a position on the project, the Liberals, now in opposition, warned that cancelling the project would threaten 2,500 jobs.

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