Sonia Furstenau, MLA for the Cowichan Valley, has announced she is running to be the next leader of the B.C. Green Party.
Surrounded by supporters in Victoria on Jan. 26, Furstenau said she hopes that her candidacy for the leadership of the party is the beginning of a new era in B.C. politics.
She said the province needs a new style of leadership that listens to evidence and to communities.
“I got into politics because I saw a disconnect between the decisions made at higher levels of government and how they affect peoples’ day-to-day lives,” Furstenau said.
“I have seen time and time again how good ideas get stalled at the provincial level due to old ways of thinking and partisan divisiveness. But the past two and a half years in office have also made it clear to me that it does not have to be this way.”
B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver announced earlier this month that he will step back from his party and sit as an independent as of Jan. 20.
The B.C. Greens, who held three seats in the legislature prior to Weaver’s announcement, have an agreement to support the province’s minority NDP government.
The party plans to choose a new leader to replace Weaver this summer.
Furstenau, the former director for Shawnigan Lake on the Cowichan Valley Regional District board, was instrumental in the successful fight by that community to shut down a controversial contaminated soil site located close to the lake.
A press release states that as the MLA for the Cowichan Valley, Furstenau successfully advocated for changes to the child welfare system, worked with the government to make reforms to environmental legislation and to develop childcare and early childhood education programs, and stood up against the government’s tax breaks to the fossil fuel industry.
She has served as the BC Greens’ deputy leader and House Leader in the legislature.
While announcing her bid for the leadership of the party, Furstenau said the province needs a plan for the future that embraces new ideas, and MLAs who have the courage to implement it.
“We need to embrace solutions to the climate crisis that will improve quality of life and create opportunities for British Columbians,” she said.
“We need to shift away from century-old markers like GDP growth to more meaningful indicators like equality, infrastructure, health and wellbeing. We need to move beyond the tired ideological wars of the 20th century, focus on the concrete outcomes we want to achieve, and work collaboratively to find the best common sense policies to make them happen.”
Furstenau said she intends to begin travelling around the province over the next few months to speak to current and future members and supporters of the party about the future of the Greens in the province.
“The B.C. Green Party has grown by leaps and bounds in the past few years, and since beginning initial conversations about my leadership candidacy, I have spoken with dozens of potential candidates, supporters and members who are excited to bring fresh perspectives and enthusiasm to this campaign,” she said.
Furstenau said she has hired two co-campaign managers to assist with her leadership bid, and has raised more than $12,000 for the campaign so far.