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Green Party and NDP Battle on Twitter

PostedDecember 18, 2012 by in Canada

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Read this story from the Vancouver Sun’s Craig McInnes on the recent twitter spat between Green Party of BC Victoria candidate and UVic climatologist Dr. Andrew Weaver and the NDP over allegations a senior party advisor asked him not to run in next May’s provincial election. (Dec. 13, 2012)

What New Democrat MLA John Horgan cutely dismissed as a “tempest in an Oak Bay tea cup” started on Twitter on Wednesday evening.

University of Victoria professor Andrew Weaver, a veteran of the climate wars but a recent recruit to party politics, made an astounding and serious allegation while trading tweets with former NDP MLA David Schreck, who often has a running commentary on provincial politics as @StrategicThghts.

Under the Twitter handle @AJWVictoriaBC, Weaver said University of B.C. Professor Michael Byers, a colleague and until Thursday at least, a friend, called him up shortly after he was nominated about three months ago as the Green candidate in Oak Bay-Gordon Head, now held by Aboriginal Affairs Minister Ida Chong, who is running again.

Byers has run federally as an NDP candidate.

In a series Tweets Weaver said: “

“He said the provincial NDP would like me to step aside.”

“I said I was running for the Greens not against the NDP or Liberals.”

“And then he talked about NDP potentially offering me Deputy Minister of Environment.”.

Those allegations were denied by Byers in interviews, who admitted to calling Weaver for what was supposed to be confidential conversation. Byers said he was clear that he was only speaking for himself, not the NDP, and that he never offered Weaver an incentive to step aside.

“So I’m surprised and disappointed, first of all that he revealed the fact we’ve had a conversation and secondly, I am very disappointed that he is actually lying about the content of that conversation,” Byers said in an interview with CKNW.

On the Bill Good show Thursday morning, Weaver backed away from the most serious part of his original allegation — that he was offered an incentive to give up the nomination — but added the extraordinary claim that he was being bullied on Twitter as part of an orchestrated attack.

That bullying, he said, prompted him to blurt out, in 140 character spurts, his recollection of a conversation held three months earlier, which now seemed to him to be part of a darker side to the NDP’s election strategy that was lurking behind NDP leader Adrian Dix’s pledge to run a positive campaign.

Horgan denies any such plot.

Horgan is as much of a professional in party politics as Weaver is an amateur. He was a senior aide in the NDP government in the 1990s and now serves as the NDP’s house leader after losing the leadership to Dix.

But I’m not so sure about his assessment on the potential impact of Weaver’s eruption in the Twitterverse.

It may be a soon-to-be-forgotten “tempest in an Oak Bay tea cup,” but there are a few aspects that suggest some larger themes are at play.

A strong showing by the Green candidate in the federal byelection in Victoria has given provincial Green candidates hope they can make their argument that voting Green isn’t simply another way of helping a Liberal win.

Even if Byers was acting on his own — and I have no reason to doubt his word on that — he is not alone in his concern about the potential for vote-splitting.

Now that the provincial conservatives have imploded, vote-splitting has become as much of an issue for the New Democrats as it has for the Liberals. If the Greens present a credible face, they could make the difference in close ridings.

Weaver is by far the highest-profile Green candidate to date. His performance over the past 24 hours, however, will be interpreted a couple of ways. He showed a remarkably thin skin in his reaction to the Twitter exchanges. Cyberbullying is a legitimate concern, but I didn’t see anything in the Twitter stream that came remotely close to earning that label.

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