In his own words: BC Green Party candidate Andrew Weaver on allegations of political interference

Those two tweets, from University of Victoria professor and the nominated BC Green Party candidate in Oak Bay-Gordon Head have created quite a little kerfuffle. The “NDP insider” that Weaver is referring to in those tweets is Michael Byers, a UBC political scientist who ran for the federal NDP in the last general election.

The night after those tweets went up, the following was broadcast On The Bill Good Show on Vancouver radio station CKNW on Dec. 13 at about 8:35 a.m. PST. (Listen yourself at CKNW’s Audio Vault. Note: I have added the links in this post and the following transcription is mine, based on that broadcast)

 Host BILL GOOD: Byers … had this to say.

Former federal NDP candidate MICHAEL BYERS: It is true that I phoned Andrew shortly after he announced he would be running for the Green Party in the provincial election. Andrew and I are friends and colleagues. I’m a great admirer of his work on climate change and we’ve come to know each other over the years. First thing I said when I phoned him up was that I wanted to have a private, confidential conversation with him and he agreed to that. The second thing I said was that I was not phoning on behalf of anyone else. In fact, no one else knew I was calling and he said he understood that.

So, I’m surprised and disappointed that, first of all, he has revealed the fact that we had a conversation and secondly, I’m very disappointed that he’s actually lying about the content of that conversation. So it’s been pretty tough personally to have someone who I admired and considered a friend to put these kinds of misrepresentations out in public.

My comment: Who phones up a friend and says, first, what I’m about to say is “private and confidential” and then follows that up with, “By the way, I haven’t been put up to this call by anyone.” Isn’t that a bit odd?

GOOD: Michael Byers. And Andrew Weaver joins me now. Dr. Weaver, good morning. How do you respond to Michael Byers.

Green Party of BC candidate ANDREW WEAVER: Well, when the phone call occurred, it was within 24 hours or 48 hours after I declared I was going to be a candidate. [Akin: That was in early September] I don’t have any recollection of statements that this was confidential or private call. In fact I remember after the call I phoned [Leader of the Green Party in B.C.] Jane Sterk up immediately after to express the contents because I felt – Michael’s a friend, we had a conversation – I felt uncomfortable with the conversation and so I phoned the leader of my party, Jane Sherk, and expressed my concern. So I thought we’d just leave it as it is. [Difficult to understand Weaver at this point at about 8:39 PST of the interview] …within just announcing to be asked to step down [and confident from here on about transcription] well, that’s one thing. Of course, I was joking – I responded back, well, why don’t you ask the NDP candidate to step down, in a joking manner, right? Because I thought,you know, it was kind of silly to ask this. And when we started talking about different ways of being influential within government, I felt this was just something I’d like to move on from. Anyway …

GOOD: Did he actually offer you a job or suggest that you might be in position to get a job?

WEAVER: The way it happened was not a “I’m here on behalf of so-and-so to offer you a job”. What it was as follows: It was along the lines of – well, there are different ways that you or I could be influential with government. For example, you might consider this is a potential way, this is a potential way. And so it was in this context of a discussion that it was raised.

GOOD: So he didn’t offer you a deputy minister’s position?

WEAVER: No. He couldn’t offer that. The term deputy minister was dangled as one of a number of ways one could still have influence in the government direction of policy.

GOOD: Did you think he was representing the provincial NDP?

WEAVER:  It was very clear to me that Michael Byers is very well connected within the NDP and he did mention, of course, that he has the ear of [BC NDP Leader] Adrian Dix. And the reason – I mean, what’s important to recognize is that I had no intention of ever, ever … so I felt uncomfortable with the conversation which is why I phoned my leader immediately after. I had no intention of ever saying anything. But yesterday what happened, I was given wind that I was going to be attacked on three particular issues. Three particular issues that – it wasn’t about what, what’s your opinion on? It was assertions. And it played out like clockwork on Twitter last night. And I thought, well, this is amazing. We have an NDP campaign here that’s trying to come across as a positive campaign … but what’s clear to me is that beneath this sugar-coating is that there’s this kind of murkiness below, that it’s not, you know, as clean as it would all seem. So I was dismayed that I was looking forward to having a very open issues-based campaign, particularly in Gordon Head. The candidates in Gordon Head, we’ve had nothing but positive stuff in Gordon Head. But in provincial scale, you know, rather than worrying about the Greens and trying to attack us as individuals, let’s just start talking about the issues. Let’s find out what the NDP actually supports and stands for.

GOOD: Expand on that. Because everybody I’ve talked to this morning is going, well, why did he wait until last night and why did he start this on Twitter?

WEAVER: It’s in particular, it’s clear to me that last night’s, what happened yesterday – I was told during the day that this was going to happen. And it happened. It played out like clockwork…

 GOOD: What happened?

WEAVER: That I was going to be attacked on a variety of issues. It was going to be on issues of sewage. Issues of [unclear in transcript at abot 8:42 am PST of this second issue] and issues of nuclear power. And I was given a heads up to it. And then it played out exactly … You know, they’re bullying me. And I don’t .. and it’s clear to me they’re being bullies. And I felt…

GOOD: They being the NDP?

WEAVER: Well, they being the people on Twitter who – I don’t know whether they are formally representing the NDP or not – they clearly are sympathetic to the NDP positions. And the fact these issues were actually conveyed to me and they actually appeared to me like clockwork in a multi-pronged attacked. Maybe it’s an amazing coincidence or maybe that people actually talk amongst themselves and have come up with a strategy of how they’ll try to attack people. So I felt that, you know what?, you’re claiming as a party that you’re going to run a positive campaign, let’s see that positive campaign. And you know I haven’t seen it. What I’ve seen is the words being said about a positive campaign but I’ve been on the receiving end of a lot of negativity. I’m here as a Green candidate running for the Greens. I’m not running against the NDP. I’m not running against the Liberals. We’re trying to bring a positive message that we need to do government better and differently, in an open and transparent way. And that’s what we’re standing for.

GOOD: Andrew Weaver, thank you.

WEAVER: Thank you very much.

My comment: Clearly, Byers and Weaver have different recollections of what this conversation was meant. They do agree on one thing:

Byers: .. I was not phoning on behalf of anyone else

Weaver: …The way it happened was not a “I’m here on behalf of so-and-so to offer you a job” …

But beyond that, Weaver appears to be maintaining the assertion that the intent of the phone call was to get him to drop out as the Green Party candidate and, if he was interested, to seek to influence the government in some other way.

UPDATE: On Twitter, I asked BC NDP House Leader John Horgan about Weaver’s assertion, in the Good interview, that Byers “has the ear of Adrian Dix.” Here’s Horgan’s response:


4 thoughts on “In his own words: BC Green Party candidate Andrew Weaver on allegations of political interference”

  1. David,
    Andrew Weaver’s credibility as an honest interlocutor ended for me in the run up to the last provincial election when Mr Weaver recorded a message which was robo-called to voters in Carole James’s Victoria riding urging them to get out to vote Carole James out of office and support (not the Green candidate) but the BC Liberal candidate…a 25 year old UVic student called Dallas Henault who, to call him a political neophyte, would be unfair to neophytes.

    I got one of those calls and it convinced me at that time that, however committed I might be to addressing global warming, I wouldn’t be relying on Mr Weaver’s ‘political’ advice or acumen for anything from that time forward. Going from urging voters to re-elect Gordon Campbell’s BC Liberals to suggesting he’d be an honest broker (or potential star candidate) for the Green cause and making up stories about Michael Byers and the NDP isn’t such a great stretch for those of us who’ve watched Mr Weaver in action here in the provincial capital for years.

    He’s a shameless opportunist with no credibility whatever.

  2. David Akin’s comment “Who phones up a friend and says….” etc. reveals naivete about the cut and thrust of politics. Byers knew that Weaver was now in the game and that ruminations about potential roles could be misunderstood or manipulated (the more likely scenario in this case). He may also have had reasons to doubt the sincerity of Weaver’s friendship – since confirmed.

    Weaver’s deploring of NDP “murkiness” also reveals him to be a hypocrite who will even betray friendship and professional collegiality to achieve his ends. His claim to “do government better and differently” rings hollow in light of this disgraceful performance.

  3. “Talks about other ways I could be effective in an NDP government. Dangles the idea of my being Deputy Minister of the Environment”.

    The New Doublespeak Party clearly is scared about the Green wave which is about to wash over them; it makes perfect sense for them to try to lure a star Green candidate like Andrew Weaver with hints of an attractive position after the election.

    Andrew clearly didn’t bite, so now the strategy becomes to deny it ever happened and attack, attack, attack. The NDP shows again that it practices nasty, tired politics at a very predictable level. Don’t waste your vote; this time Green.

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