B.C. Green Party candidate Andrew Weaver says the B.C. NDP pressured him not to run in the next provincial election, but the party denies it was offering any incentives.
Weaver alleges he got a phone call from NDP insider Michael Byers urging him to bow out in the riding of Oak Bay-Gordon Head.
“Clearly, my announcement of my candidacy made some NDP strategists nervous, because I got a call from Michael Byers 24 hours later,” Weaver told CBC News.
“He asked me to consider dropping out.”
He also alleges Byers offered him a potential incentive for him to drop out, shortly after he announced he was running for the Greens in late September.
“"The next thing I know, they start dangling about, ‘Well, you know, there are other ways you could be effective in the government, like maybe deputy minister or something,’” Weaver said.
Weaver said he doesn't consider it a bribe, but more of a "carrot" for him not to run.
The noted expert on climate change believes Byers, a former federal NDP candidate in Vancouver, was calling on behalf of the party, because they think he could cost them a chance at the seat.
Only a personal call
When reached for comment, Byers did not deny making the call to Weaver, but said it was only a personal call, and he was not speaking for the B.C. NDP.
"I phoned him entirely in my personal capacity. I told him that and I told him to keep the conversation confidential," said Byers.
"He agreed to that, and I then expressed my surprise and disappointment that he was doing this."
Byers says he does have strong ties to the federal NDP, but not the provincial wing of the party.
"I am active in politics, but that is at the federal level and the idea that I would be delegated to phone on behalf of Adrian Dix is ludicrous."
Byers ran unsuccessfully for the federal NDP in Vancouver Centre in 2008 and spent seven years as an advisor to Jack Layton and was co-chair of the B.C. component of Thomas Mulcair's leadership run.
Not asked to call
B.C. NDP House Leader John Horgan says his party never asked Byers to call Weaver, and his party would never offer an incentive to get someone out of the political arena.
"Certainly no inducement was ever offered, or would it ever be contemplated."
"Adrian Dix and our party are firmly of the view that the voters will decide who is elected, and anyone is entitled to, and has a right to run wherever they want to run. Discouraging people from participating is not what we are about."
Horgan says the two men are professional colleagues — both are professors with a shared interest in climate change — and any call made by Byers was a personal one.
"As I understand it Mr Byers was expressing his personal view, certainly not the views of the B.C. NDP. We did not send anyone to talk to Mr. Weaver, nor would we ever contemplate that."
Horgan rejects any suggestion the NDP is afraid the Green Party will siphon off votes, especially in Oak Bay Gordon Head where Weaver is running.
Just part of politics, says Green leader
The leader of the B.C. Green Party Jane Sterk says she is not concerned about the conversation between Weaver and Byers.
Sterk recalled when the phone call took place sometime in late September or early October, she and Weaver laughed about it at the time.
Sterk says one party trying to woo away a strong candidate from a rival party is part of the dark underbelly of politics and it just shows the NDP is beginning to worry about the Green Party.
"I think that's the kind of phone call that goes on in politics. I saw it more as an attempt to persuade him to reconsider his decision to run for the Green Party as opposed to a bribe per se"
With files from the CBC's Stephen Smart
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