Carole James and Andrew Weaver speak to the changes in the speculation tax at the B.C. Legislature. (Arnold Lim/Black Press)

Following legislative process key to cross-party amendments: Andrew Weaver

Green party leader Andrew Weaver on working with Liberals, Uber, speculation tax

The trick to governing down the middle is not trying to please everyone, Andrew Weaver said during a year-end interview with Black Press Media and the Oak Bay News.

The leader of the BC Green Party plays a key role in keeping the minority NDP government afloat, something which he calls the balance of responsibility. This is in addition to acting as the MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head. He believes the few times where he’s had to balance those roles, he’s done well.

“This is why it’s ‘responsibility,’” rather than balance of power, Weaver said. “The issue with the speculation tax, it was one where there were a diversity of views. This affected Oak Bay, and it also affected the broader province. I was very careful in trying to determine what was in my ridings’ best interest versus broader British Columbia’s best interest on that — I think we came to a good place through amendments and negotiations to something that I can truly say is OK for both.”

READ MORE: Weaving between giants: BC Green leader talks CleanBC to LNG

Three Green amendments made it into the speculation and vacancy tax. They require that mayors be part of an annual review process with the Minister of Finance, that revenue raised by the tax will be used for housing initiatives within the region it came from, and finally they equalized rates for Canadians and British Columbians at 0.5 per cent.

Just before Bill 45’s second reading, the government made legislative drafters available to all parties.

“In order for us to improve amendments, you have to ensure that they’re actually written in a legal fashion. What legislative drafters do is they take the ideas of your legislation and they put them forward into a legal document that you can actually introduce, and if it were to pass it would actually make sense legally,” Weaver said.

Weaver says that following that process is key to being able to work across parties. That’s why he voted against a Liberal push to bring ride sharing sooner than the governments bill, despite his own disappointment in how long the overall process has taken.

READ MORE: It takes forever: Weaver on derelict boats

“The Liberals were playing nothing but a political stunt and a political game,” he said. “The B.C. Liberals choose to play games and not use the legislative drafters. We cannot support any B.C. Liberal amendment that actually has not gone through legislative drafters because it would be irresponsible for us.”

Weaver estimates to have spent hundreds of hours attempting to bring ride-hailing into B.C. over the last four years, and he’s content with how the file has turned out so far.

“The amendments that my colleague Adam Olsen got through were critical,” Weaver said in reference to giving the Passenger Transportation Board more flexibility to approve licenses.

“Yes, we were actually working with Lyft and Uber to know exactly what was needed to bring ride hailing here. Have a look at the fact that Uber is now advertising on the radio in British Columbia, and Lyft just took over centre ice in Vancouver. That’s got nothing to do with Liberal amendments.”



jesse.laufer@oakbaynews.com

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