Sonia Furstenau’s first month as leader for the BC Greens is one she soon won’t forget.
One week after Furstenau was voted in as party leader by supporters, BC NDP Premier-elect John Horgan called a snap election – dissolving the prior coalition agreement between the two parties that was created after the 2017 election and allowed the NDP to form a minority government.
Furstenau, projected winner for the Cowichan Valley, was forced to hit the ground running, finding candidates to tout the Greens platform in each of B.C.’s 87 ridings.
Most will agree: her hard work paid off on Saturday night (Oct. 24), not only expanding the Greens’ footprint but also capturing the party’s first riding outside of Vancouver Island.
“I think it’s an indication that we are no longer limited just to the Vancouver Island, where we’ve been strong, but that people around the province are recognizing that the Greens are offering a very important alternative than the kind of politics of the other two parties,” Furstenau told reporters from Election Day party headquarters in Victoria, shortly after media projected Horgan would be premier and backed by a majority government.
Adam Olsen, who served as interim leader after Andrew Weaver stepped down in January, is projected to be re-elected in the riding of Saanich North and Islands. Jeremy Valeriote cinched the West Vancouver - Sea to Sky riding, making the first-ever win for the Greens in the Lower Mainland.
Weaver’s former riding of Oak Bay Gordon Head flipped orange, however, and was won by NDP candidate Murray Rankin.
Since government was dissolved in mid-September, Furstenau has criticized Horgan for calling an election during a time when political leaders need to be focusing on COVID-19 recovery. During the election campaign, provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry declared that B.C. had entered its second wave of the pandemic, reporting more than 200 cases each day this past week.
Unlike Horgan and BC Liberals Leader Andrew Wilkinson, Furstenau had to not only push Green platform pledges but also introduce herself to the province beyond her Cowichan Valley riding as the new party leader.
During the only televised debate, Furstenau notably pushed to differentiate herself from the other two party leaders when she pledged to work to end systemic racism but admitted that the three of them, who are all white, could never grasp its nuances.
While Horgan’s risk to call a pandemic election paid off, flipping historically Liberal ridings in the Fraser Valley in what is being dubbed the “orange crush,” Furstenau said Saturday night that the Greens will ensure accountability from the NDP in the B.C. Legislature.
“They were half successful,” she said.
“What these results are showing is that British Columbians are not willing to give the government a pass on things like climate change, old-growth [forests] protection or the holes in COVID recovery plan.”
Based off Elections BC preliminary results, the NDP are projected to lead a majority government with 55 seats. The Liberals are projected to have garnered 29 seats, followed by the Greens with three seats.
Due to the pandemic, more British Columbians have decided to vote by mail-in ballot than ever before. Election results won’t be finalized until mid-November, after those mail-in ballots are counted beginning Nov. 6.
Across B.C., a total of 497,900 mail-in ballots were returned to Election BC, as of Friday (Oct. 23). There are roughly 3.5 million registered voters in the province.
Video by Arnold Lim, Black Press Media
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