Cowichan Valley MLA Sonia Furstenau is the new leader of the B.C. Greens.
Furstenau, the only sitting MLA in the race to succeed former leader Andrew Weaver, won on the second ballot with a total of 2,428 votes to runner-up Cam Brewer’s 2,127.
Party officials said 85 per cent of the 5,478 eligible voters, which included party members and those who’d signed up as supporters, cast ballots using a ranked voting system.
Sunshine Coast resident and 2017 Green candidate in Powell River-Sunshine Coast was eliminated after securing just 521 first-ballot votes. Furstenau had 2,197 votes on the first ballot and Brewer, a Vancouver-based lawyer and teacher at Simon Fraser University, had 1,976 – neither sufficient to meet the 2,318 threshold needed to win.
“It is a critical time in provincial politics, to ensure that the BC Greens continue to influence better outcomes for this province,” Fursteneau said in her acceptance speech during the live video event to announce the results.
“To Cam and Kim and their teams, I extend my congratulations on running solid campaigns to the very end. This leadership campaign has invigorated our party. And with new ideas and supporters I am excited to grow the party and keep bringing change to British Columbia”
In an email to supporters on Sunday, Darwin said that regardless of the outcome she was excited to be part of a new beginning for the Green party.
“It’s been a wild ride these past few months,” Darwin said. “Ever since I joined the party six years ago and was elected to Provincial Council, I have been fighting to give our party a bigger, louder voice on the most important issues we face. For those of us who understand how interconnected job creation, health care and climate policy are, today is the day to act for our future.”
With speculation mounting that there could be a provincial election before the next scheduled election in 2021, Furstenau also used part of her speech to warn Premier John Horgan against triggering an election, saying the NDP leader has “a responsibility to govern, not to play politics.”
“B.C. Greens put principle ahead of politics to collaborate with the other parties, even though we don’t agree with them on everything,” Furstenau said. “Sadly, this is not a common practice in the B.C. legislature – the political structures we have in place reinforce hyper partisanship, perpetuating the myth that this is just how politics is done. These past few weeks this kind of politics has reared its head again, as the spectre of a completely unnecessary, irresponsible early election in the middle of a pandemic is being contemplated simply because it might benefit one party's political fortunes.”
Darwin is still the candidate of record for the B.C. Greens in Powell River-Sunshine Coast, and she also spoke out on the early election talk in a statement posted Sept. 12, calling it “utterly unconscionable” to call an election “while the attention of British Columbians [is] diverted to the physical and financial health of their families as a result of the novel coronavirus wreaking havoc on everyone’s lives.”
Horgan faced questions about the prospect of an election again during a Monday news conference held before the Green leadership vote was announced. He was asked about whether a new Green leader would change his government’s approach to working within the Confidence and Supply Agreement (CASA) between the NDP and the Greens.
“I wish whoever emerges today as the leader of the Green party all the best. This is challenging work. And I know that whoever becomes the leader of the Green party will have a task ahead of them. My job is to work to make sure that British Columbians are safe, that our economy can continue to grow,” Horgan said.
“I did say last week and it remains true today. When CASA was contemplated, when it was created, we did not think that a global pandemic was something that we would have to consider. The situation today is not the situation last year, or certainly not 2017.”
The NDP announced Sept. 8 that incumbent MLA Nicholas Simons has been acclaimed as the party’s candidate “ahead of the next scheduled election in Fall 2021.”
The B.C. Liberals have also been making candidate announcements over the past couple of weeks, but have not yet named anyone to run in Powell River-Sunshine Coast.