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Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau voted B.C. Green Party leader

Last Updated Sep 14, 2020 at 3:02 pm PDT

FILE - Green MLAs Adam Olsen and Sonia Furstenau. (Photo courtesy Andrew Weaver, via Twitter)
Summary

The B.C. Green Party announced Sonia Furstenau as its leader Monday

She defeated environmental lawyer Cam Brewer and entrepreneur Kim Darwin to become leader

New Green Party leader doesn't want a fall election

VICTORIA (NEWS 1130) — Now is not the time for a provincial election, newly minted B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau said in her acceptance speech.

The MLA for Cowichan Valley and house leader for the party’s caucus, won the leadership contest Monday, succeeding interim leader Adam Olsen, after Andrew Weaver stepped down.

“We have two overlapping health emergencies. We have just spent the last week gasping or our breath because of climate fires. Our kids are navigating an entirely new way of being in school, and COVID-19 cases are rising,” she said.

“Now is not the time to dissolve government, to leave a province leaderless for over a month in hopes of securing more power for yourself. This is a time when we need our ministers of health and education to be working along our public health officer to do all they can to protect the health and well-being of the people of British Columbia. Do not succumb to the old ways of doing politics in the new and altered world. Instead, rise above partisanship and put the people you serve ahead of your party’s self-interest.”

On Monday, Premier John Horgan was asked again about the potential for a fall election, but did not say if he would send the province to the polls.

“I’m going to be comfortable later in the week talking about our plan to get B.C.’s economy back up and running, focusing on people, focusing on businesses, focusing on communities,” he said as the province announced a new lung cancer screening program.

“Those are my preoccupations and I realized that what I say will either stoke or dampen speculation, but I just I’ve answered this question many, many times. We’ve always been ready for an election campaign, and I’m going to just keep working until that time arrives,” Horgan added.

He said the Green Party selecting a new leader does not change his view.

Three candidates were vying for the leadership position after nine days of online and phone voting. Furstenau won with 52.4 per cent of the votes over environmental lawyer Cam Brewer’s 46 per cent in the second round. Third place Kim Darwin, an entrepreneur, was eliminated in the first round.

“I’m honoured to be the leader of the B.C. Greens,” Furstenau says in a tweet. “Our party has accomplished great things for the people of B.C. and we are just getting started.”

Furstenau was also house leader in the B.C. Green caucus.

“She brings a strong record of legislative accomplishments and local governance to her leadership,” the party says.

Furstenau was previously area director for the Cowichan Valley Regional District, as well as a teacher and non-profit administrator. She has been involved in climate and social advocacy for more than 20  years.

The Greens ran a three-month-long leadership contest. The contest attracted 4,659 voters from across the province. Voter turnout was 85 per cent among party members.

“This is an exciting time for the B.C. Greens,” says Jonina Campbell, the party’s executive director. “Sonia’s experience in the legislature is exactly what British Columbians need to lead us into the next provincial election.”

 

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Furstenau said the leadership campaign has invigorated the party. She also thanked Olsen and said she looks forward to growing the party with him.

“You and I make a great team, and together we are going to build this party with a slate of thoughtful and hardworking B.C. Green candidates to run and win in the next election, whenever it is called.”

Furstenau added that calling an early election, during the COVID-19 pandemic is irresponsible and unnecessary.

“To John Horgan I say, you have a responsibility to govern, not play politics,” she said.

Olsen said it’s a critical time for Furstenau to step in as leader of the party and continue to show British Columbians how important the Greens are to the future of the province.

This year, he added, has revealed substantial weaknesses in society and it’s crucial that the B.C. Greens continue to ensure the government invests in a “Green recovery.”