Les Leyne: A handy guide to taking over the B.C. Greens

Want to take over from Andrew Weaver as leader of the B.C. Green Party? It’s not too early to start thinking about it. He announced Monday he won’t be running for re-election in Oak Bay-Gordon Head and wants to surrender the leadership sooner rather than later.

The party is looking at a leadership convention next summer, so now’s the time to start planning.

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Here’s a handy to-do list, based mostly on the most recent rules the party devised for leadership contests, plus some personal observations. The rules didn’t really come into play last time, in 2015. Weaver won by acclamation, so there was no contest. They are being reviewed, so they are subject to change.

• First, join the party. It might already be too late. You have to be a member for at least six months prior to the announcement of a leadership election. The party has a convention planned for Nanaimo in June, 2020, which will likely become the leadership convention.

The formal announcement of a leadership contest will come in the next several weeks, so as far as outsiders are concerned, the window is likely closed, not that outsiders had much of a chance.

You can get an exemption if you convince the committee to grant one.

• Come up with $7,500. That was the entry fee for contestants last time. Before that, take a hard look in the mirror.

If the party’s leadership election committee doesn’t like you and rejects your candidacy, they’ll return the entry fee, but keep $500 for the trouble you put them through. Also, read the rules carefully. The three-person committee can sanction or disqualify candidates who break them.

• Fill out a lot of forms. There’s a confidentiality agreement, a biography, a professional resumé and a web assets form to submit. A financial agent also must be appointed. Some parties use accountants for that purpose, but the Greens require the agent to be a member of the Green party.

• “Following a thorough vetting process ... the committee will recommend [to the provincial council] accepting or rejecting an applicant.” It takes five days.

• If you’re approved, you become a “nominee,” and have a few weeks to come up with 75 endorsements from members.

• After meeting those requirements, you become a candidate. There was a $25,000 spending cap last time, not counting travel costs. There are limits on how to raise that money — you can’t take more than $2,500 from any one source.

Contributors must meet Elections B.C. and party criteria, meaning no corporations or unions.

Here is some more personal advice to prospective candidates, offered here absolutely free:

• You must be a Vancouver Islander. The last three leaders have been Islanders. The three seats they now hold are on the Island. About a third of the 330,000 Green votes in 2017 came from the Island.

The idea of someone who “comes from away” taking over this enterprise is a non-starter.

Trivia fact: In the first 20 years of the party’s life they had four leaders from the mainland who contested seven elections and got zero seats. For five years of that period they even abolished the leadership and had a rotating trio of spokespeople.

It was only when Islanders seized control that things started happening.

Clearly, mainlanders aren’t fit to run this party.

• On the other hand, it would be nice to get some votes from the mainland, given that over four million people live there and all but 13 of the seats are over there. The new leader has to be an Islander, but be able to speak mainland on occasion. Talk to Elizabeth May about this.

• A big part of the new leader’s life is the relationship with Premier John Horgan. It’s going to be fraught with peril.

The NDP government desperately needs the Greens right up until the next scheduled election in October 2021. Then they don’t need them or want them any more.

Avoiding getting bulldozed to the sidelines the day the election is called is going to need a lot of Green ingenuity.

Also, the newbie has to stay on good terms with Weaver, who will be an MLA right up to the final day, and is used to calling the shots.

Copyright © Powell River Peak

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