No matter who forms the next B.C. government, the federal government will face more pressure to listen to the British Columbians’ environmental concerns, says federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.
May said the BC Green Party’s success in winning three seats and the balance of power is “fantastic” because it will put environmental issues at the forefront nationally.
The BC Liberals won 43 seats, the New Democrats 41 seats and the Green Party three seats in the May 9 election. Green leader Andrew Weaver is expected to announce by Wednesday if his party will support the NDP or Liberals in a minority government.
Whatever happens, May said the federal Liberals would be up against a different mindset in Victoria.
“The fact of the matter is no one is going to form government in this province without a much stronger commitment to climate action,” said May, the MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands.
Since the 2015 election, the Liberal federal government has given its approval to permits for the controversial Site C dam, the Pacific NorthWest LNG project and the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.
The approvals drew sharp criticism from environmental groups and some residents.
The federal Liberal government has said the B.C. election results won’t change its approval for the Trans Mountain pipeline project.
May said Trudeau’s government has been more interested in appeasing Alberta Premier Rachel Notley than looking at what works for the environment and British Columbians.
The provincial BC Liberals supported the controversial projects, but much of the public does not, May said. “Every decision they’ve made so far that relates to British Columbia has been to ignore British Columbians concerns on a wide range of issues.”
Now she reckons Ottawa will be forced to consider the concerns of the projects’ opponents.
May, the Green Party’s sole federal MP, said the gains made in B.C. would likely increase the party’s exposure across the country.
An expert on political branding agrees with May, but said it’s critical that Weaver ensure the provincial Greens get at least one cabinet post in the next government.
Alex Marland is a political science professor at Memorial University in Newfoundland and author of Brand Command, which examines political branding in Canada.
Marland said the news coverage of Weaver and the B.C. Greens would boost the party nationally.
But the attention could easily fade unless a Green Party MLA gets a cabinet post and maintains a high national profile.
Without such a presence in cabinet politicians from outside of B.C. will have no reason to interact with the party, he said, which would result in less national attention.
“It really comes down to whether the provincial Green Party in British Columbia is doing things on a national scale,” he said.