The longest serving Green MLA in the province’s history is leaving the party.
Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Andrew Weaver is stepping aside to sit as an independent.
Weaver, who stepped down as leader earlier this month, is quitting the caucus to reduce his workload and be more present for a family member facing upcoming medical issues.
“Over the last few months I’ve spent a good deal of time thinking about how best to balance my commitments under the Confidence and Supply Agreement (CASA), my desire to see the BC Green Party grow its political presence in British Columbia and increasing health demands affecting my family,” Weaver said in a statement.
“After careful consideration I feel it is best for all parties if I continue my legislative work as an independent member, prior to the beginning of the spring legislative session.”
The move is effective Jan. 20. Weaver will join Speaker Darryl Plecas as the only independents in the B.C. legislature.
WATCH (aired October 7, 2019): Andrew Weaver announces plans to step down as leader of the Green Party
It has been a tumultuous few months for Weaver. In September he was hospitalized after being diagnosed with labyrinthitis, a condition that affects navigation and balance.
Weaver has been back to work, including giving a speech at the Union of B.C. Municipalities conference, following his bout with the illness.
Following his recovery, Weaver announced his October his plans to not run in the next election. He has committed to staying on as the MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head until the next election.
The party officially launched a leadership race earlier this month. MLA Adam Olsen will serve as the party’s interim leader until a permanent leader is chosen.
WATCH (aired: May 28, 2018): Green Party leader Andrew Weaver calls pipeline a ‘betrayal’
“As the leadership race unfolds, I believe that it is important for the BC Green Party to develop a new vision and voice independent from mine. My presence in the BC Green caucus could hinder that independence,” Weaver said.
“Sitting as an independent will also give me a better opportunity during the upcoming legislative sitting to attend to personal matters, including a number of health challenges affecting my family.”
Leaving the Green caucus will not have any impact on the party’s status in the Legislature. The Green party is supportive of Weaver’s decision.
“We support MLA Weaver in his decision to sit as an independent so he can attend to the various health challenges affecting his family,” Olsen said.
“The BC Green Party’s work these past years to begin to reduce partisan polarization from our political discourse and restore the public’s trust has been demanding, and because of this we recognize that a person’s commitment to their family needs to come before those to their caucus.”
Following the NDP forming government, Attorney General David Eby changed the Constitution Act giving official party status to groups with two or more MLAs. The former requirement was a minimum of four MLAs.
On Wednesday, Weaver also announced plans to return to the University of Victoria to resume his academic duties upon completing his term as an MLA.
“I’m excited about the prospect of eventually getting back to the classroom,” Weaver said.
“I entered politics to have a positive impact on the political discourse on climate change, and I am very proud of the accomplishments of the BC Greens under my leadership. I look forward to watching their continued growth under the party’s new leader.”