Green MLA Sonia Furstenau elected party leader

New Green leader slams John Horgan for contemplating fall election

Cowichan Valley Green MLA Sonia Furstenau wins Green leadership.

Vancouver Island Green MLA Sonia Furstenau is the BC Green Party's new leader.

A leadership contest was needed after former leader Andrew Weaver announced in January that he was stepping down as leader, citing health problems. Adam Olsen, Green MLA for Saanich North, has been the party's interim leader since Weaver stepped aside.

In a leadership contest, Fursteanu beat out two other leadership candidates -- Cam Brewer and Kim Darwin -- in a second ballot. Darwin was eliminated in the first round of voting. Furstenau beat out  Brewer on a second ballot, winning 52.4%.

In her acceptance speech Monday, Furstenau called on NDP Premier John Horgan not to call a snap election this fall.

Furstenau talked about "the spectre of a completely unnecessary, irresponsible early election in the middle of a pandemic simply because it might benefit one party's political future."

Horgan has neither confirmed nor denied that he is planning to call an election this fall, but polling suggests that the NDP's popularity is high, in part due to positive views of the way his government has handled the COVID-19 pandemic. Horgan has been cagey about the topic, refusing to rule out the possibility of a fall election.

"To John Horgan I say, you have a responsibility to govern, not play politics," Furstenau said.

Horgan's NDP government has only been able to govern thanks to the Green Party. In the last election, the B.C. Liberals actually won more seats than the NDP.

But Horgan's NDP were able to wrest the seat of government from the Liberals after striking an alliance with the Greens in the form of a confidence and supply agreement.

If Horgan were to call a fall election, it's possible the NDP could win enough seats that his party would not need support from the Greens in order to form government.

Furstenau said the leadership contest has resulted in 2,831 new supporters since February.

"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," Furstenau said.

In her acceptance speech, Furstenau talked about the perceived challenges of becoming a female political leader.

"Being a female leader in this country seems nearly unachievable," Furstenau said. "Today there are few women in provincial leadership roles across Canada.

"It is disheartening but it strengthens my belief that to achieve lasting outcomes in good ways, we must increase diversity in who we elect, and we must find ways to work across party lines and across jurisdictions."

Furstenau did not take questions from the press Monday. She will be available to the media tomorrow at a press conference.