Vancouver Island MLA Adam Olsen doesn’t rule out running for the leadership of the provincial Greens after leader Andrew Weaver announced he would not seek re-election – clearing the path for a leadership contest.
“I haven’t taken anything off the table. That would be a fairer statement,” said Olsen, MLA for Saanich North and Islands. Voters elected Olsen, a former Central Saanich councillor, as one of three Green MLAs (Oak Bay’s Weaver and Cowichan’s Sonia Furstenau were the others) to the provincial legislature in May 2017.
Olsen said his “primary focus” remains on the provincial legislative session that started this Monday, pointing to a number of what he called “really important” pieces of legislation including the reconciliation act. “As a member of local Saanich First Nations W̱SÁNEĆ [Tsartlip], this is a really important piece of legislation personally as well as for our communities on the Saanich Peninsula,” he said.
Olsen said his “secondary focus” is to start a conversation with his family and those around him. “I have two young kids and a partner,” he said. “We are very happy that we live in [Greater Victoria] and get to work and live here. I don’t know exactly what the end will look like, but I will start the process.”
Olsen also said that his constituents can be assured he won’t be distracted by the politics of the legislative session.
Weaver announced Monday that he will not be seeking re-election.
“I’m making this announcement now so that the party has enough time to start the process of electing a new leader in preparation for the next provincial election,” said Weaver in a statement.
Olsen said Weaver’s announcement did not entirely surprise him. “It has been a process,” he said. “We have had several conversations about his future and where he wants to go, and then he made the decision when he did and let us know recently that was the decision.”
Olsen said Weaver has transformed the party since Weaver and he first ran in 2013. “In all aspects, the party is much, much further along in its development than when we first showed up,” said Olsen.
Weaver has also improved the quality of democracy in British Columbia, while moving and elevated the climate change agenda. “We need to celebrate his accomplishments,” he said.
Olsen also praised Weaver’s timing of his announcement. It gives the party’s membership the ability to go through a “thoughtful process” to elect another leader well before the next provincial election in 2021, said Olsen.
“This allows for the work that Andrew did, the legacy that he has built to continue for the next leader to pick up, and carry it forward,” said Olsen, adding that the next leader will have the time to learn more about British Columbia and for British Columbia to learn more about the next leader.
Olsen, who served as the party’s interim leader before Weaver’s acclamation in 2015, said the process to find a new leader officially started Monday and will likely bear similarities to the process in 2015. “There will be a few weeks here [of internal deliberations] and then we will start to hear what that leadership campaign process will look like.”
The party holds its next annual meeting in Nanaimo in June 2020.
“There is a lot of speculation that that would be the natural concluding point [for the leadership race], although that has not been determined yet,” said Olsen. “We will see.”
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