Andrew Weaver is a professor in the UVic Ocean Sciences department with an office in the Bob Wright Centre for Ocean, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. A world-renowned environmental scientist and climate modeler, Weaver is standing for election with the B.C. Green Party in the Oak Bay-Gordon Head riding on May 14.
Weaver’s main reasons for getting into politics include giving back to the community and working with the different Members of the Legislative Assembly to accomplish goals in three main areas in governance: business, environment and economy.
On governance, Weaver says he is more interested in getting things done than taking credit or blaming. “What I am most interested in is working with other members of the assembly to accomplish things. If I have an idea and I take it to a colleague in the NDP and ask, ‘Do you think this is a good idea?’ and work with them to run with it . . . I will gladly stand behind them to get it passed,” says Weaver. “And a few weeks later when it is announced, I will be sitting at my dinner table with my family and say to my wife, ‘You know that issue we talked about a few months ago? Well, that’s what led to this.’ That would be perfect for me, and it wouldn’t matter to me if anyone knew it.”
When it comes to business, Weaver wants to combat youth unemployment with policies that work with business and labour. One solution Weaver says should be considered may be a wage-split program between companies and the provincial and federal governments. “What the federal government used to do in the past was provide wage splitting with corporations, so that the federal government would encourage corporations to hire young people.” Weaver suggests the province and the federal governments could reinstate that practice. “I am not suggesting that is the only solution, but it is one solution that we should look at,” he adds.
The B.C. Greens are also interested in working with local business to build more local economies in B.C. “What the Green Party believes is that the essence of a thriving economy is small business. It is local business and local economies. It is not large corporations or multi-nationals; it is in local business, and it is in providing the environment for those businesses to thrive. My role would be to ask small business, ‘What are the barriers to success for small business?’ There are some obvious ones in terms of taxation structure — not about reducing corporate tax, but in the way that things are taxed and the way that they are regulated.”
On the environment, Weaver says he cannot understand the logic behind the emphasis the B.C. and Canadian governments place on oil pipelines. He says the infrastructure spending decisions that government is making will take years to build, and the potential market for Canadian fossil fuels in east Asia might not be around by the time that the system is ready to ship to China, Japan or anywhere else. Local sources like Russia may be easier for the growing Asian economies to access.
“What I like is the clean tech sector,” says Weaver, “and this is a sector that B.C. had been a leader [in] in the world, but it has been pretty shaky because of a lack of coherent government policy. And that is in terms of the supply of electricity, the Clean Energy Act, and the carbon-neutral legislation that was put in place.” He adds, “And there are a lot of high-quality jobs there. And that sector will carry on and grow if certain government certainties are put in place.” Weaver would also like to see greater support for the film industry, including the tax subsidies the oil industry receives. He and the Greens would like to establish a living wage based on local requirements.
Weaver believes that continuing youth underemployment and unemployment is an understated problem in B.C. and Canada and that both levels of government should do more to help youth to prevent bigger social problems in the future.
“Any successful society is an educated society with people who are working in areas and industries that they are trained to work in [ . . . ] There is nothing more concerning than a disengaged youth. If we expect to live in a sustainable society as we age out of it, we need to make sure that the next generation moving through the system has full employment and quality jobs that can help pay for the health-care system that we are going to want to have around for us to benefit from.”