Monday September 14, 2020 | VICTORIA, BC
by Mary P Brooke, editor | Island Social Trends
Without much fanfare in a livestreamed announcement at noon today September 14, 2020, the B.C. Green Party announced today that Sonia Furstenau has won the party’s Leadership 2020 contest.
Unlike any political announcement of that stature in times past, there would have been a full room. Although the announcement was held at the Delta Ocean Pointe Resort, each of the three candidate’s teams were in separate rooms, and the only audience was online. All due to the COVID-19 pandemic of course.
“I ran for leader because I know the BC Greens are just getting started changing BC politics,” said Furstenau.
Setting the Green stage:
“Because of the BC Green Party we have banned big money, reformed the lobbying industry, and made crucial changes to environmental protection and oversight laws,” she says, with the ‘we’ meaning of course in combination with the NDP minority government.
“We understand that if we truly want to build a more sustainable, equitable and affordable province, we need to follow what the evidence says will actually deliver tangible outcomes. And we know that to achieve these outcomes, we need to put principle ahead of politics and collaborate with the other parties, even when we don’t agree with them on everything,” said Furstenau.
“Our perspective is more crucial than ever as the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need to renew our province’s economy and services,” she said, having seen up close in committees with NDP and BC Liberal reps the various aspects of managing the province since 2017.
Interim leader completes his assignment:
Interim leader Adam Olsen now steps aside, effective immediately. Furstenau won 52.4 percent of the votes on the second ballot.
Furstenau thanked fellow-MLA Adam Olsen for his service carrying the party from when former leader Andrew Weaver stepped down before the end of 2019 and today. She said they would work as a team (including Weaver who is still the MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head), and work on having several BC Green candidates “run and win in the next election”.
Furstenau is MLA for Cowichan Valley and House Leader in the B.C. Green Caucus. Her party says she brings a strong record of legislative accomplishments and local governance to her leadership. She was previously Area Director for the CVRD, a teacher, and non-profit administrator. She has been involved in climate and social advocacy for over 20 years.
“I am so excited to lead the next generation of the B.C. Greens,” Furstenau said in statement. “Our caucus has shown that by following evidence and working collaboratively we can achieve tangible outcomes for B.C. communities, and we’re just getting started. I look forward to working with both our new and long-standing supporters to continue to grow our Party.”
Women in politics:
In her livestreamed acceptance speech Furstenau said: “We have proven we can do politics differently.” She also had to learn the hard way that being told she could be anything she wanted and that everyone was equal, was not the case in actuality.
“As a young woman I remember being told I could do anything, that I was equal to men, but only seeing men in leadership roles,” said Sonia Furstenau in her acceptance speech as the new leader of the BC Green Party today in the noon hour. She said that achieving political office “seems nearly unachievable” for many.
Along the way she observed “a different standard for those historically excluded from government”. In recent years she was often told she was over-prepared, and asked “if missed being a housewife”, even though she is married and is the mother of five children.
Furstenau said: “To achieve lasting outcomes in good ways we must increase diversity in who we elect, across party lines and jurisdictions.”
Leadership contest during COVID:
After reopening the leadership contest in June, the party ran a three-month-long leadership contest ending in an eight-day voting period. The contest attracted 5,478 voters from across the province, including members and non-member “supporters”. Voter turnout was an impressive 85.0 percent.
“This is an exciting time for the B.C. Greens,” said Jonina Campbell, Executive Director of the B.C. Green Party. “Sonia’s experience in the legislature is exactly what British Columbians need to lead us into the next provincial election.”
“It’s a critical time to step in as leader of the party and continue to show British Columbians how important B.C. Greens are to the future of our province,” said Adam Olsen, B.C. Green Party former Interim Leader and MLA for Saanich North and the Islands. “2020 has revealed substantial weaknesses in our society and it’s crucial that the B.C. Greens continue to ensure government invests in a Green Recovery.”
The B.C. Green Party used a ranked ballot, where 2,318 votes were required to reach the 50 percent + 1 threshold.
|First round||BREWER, CAM||1,916 votes||41.35 %|
|DARWIN, KIM||521 votes||11.24%||Eliminated|
|FURSTENAU, SONIA||2,197 votes||47.41%|
|Second round||BREWER, CAM||2,127 votes||45.9%|
|FURSTENAU, SONIA||2,428 votes||52.4%||Won|