Voting results in Vancouver Island ridings could well determine if the next B.C. government is a minority or a majority.
B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau said in a phone interview Thursday that if voters want another minority government, that means voting for her party, especially on the Island.
She said British Columbians are faced with issues right now that are “bigger than politics,” namely the COVID-19 pandemic, opioid overdoses, homelessness, inequality and the climate emergency.
“The outcomes that come out of collaboration and co-operation better serve people. They don’t tend to be as one-sided as what you would get with a majority government…” Furstenau said. “Given the magnitude of the crises and emergencies we’re in, I have seen what’s possible but I think we need more collaboration so that we’re making decisions that aren’t then politicized by one party or another.”
She said there are many different models for coalition governments and said from her standpoint, what’s most important is that B.C.’s government acts with urgency on the “overlapping crises” she mentioned.
Another issue that she suggested her party doesn’t want to put off is forest sustainability. She said during the past three-plus years as MLA for the Cowichan Valley, preservation of old-growth was one of topics her constituents raised most often. She said B.C. has a “significant portion” of the world’s remaining coastal old-growth rainforests and that comes with responsibility.
“At the rate we’re going, we know that in 10 years it’s all done and there’s no jobs, there’s no economy left on this…” Furstenau said. “When we know the trajectory and when the outcome is not a good one for anybody, then we have to make decisions to do things differently with some urgency.”
She said B.C. can’t keep shipping out raw logs and said the Green Party’s position is that communities in places where trees are being cut need to see greater benefits.
“All the mills are shutting down and none of this is a surprise … You can go back 30 years and read the reports that said we are going to be exactly where we are right now,” she said. “Decision makers haven’t had the courage or the political will or the foresight to make decisions beyond a four-year cycle. The decisions were about the next election, not the next generation.”
Furstenau was speaking to the News Bulletin from the Mill Bay ferry, and earlier this week she announced that her party, if elected, would work to revert B.C. Ferries to a Crown corporation, from its current public-private model. The ferry system needs to be reliable, affordable and adaptable, she suggested.
“The overarching thing is we want to recognize it as a part of our transportation network, not as a company that is delivering profits or delivering incredibly high salaries to the upper echelons,” she said.
Furstenau is participating in Zoom town hall with Green Party of Canada leader Annamie Paul tonight, Oct. 22, to cap a second-to-last day of campaigning. She said this provincial election has been missing both the big gatherings and the smaller “kitchen-table talks” and acknowledged it’s harder to forge connections via Zoom.
“But the teams have adapted very quickly and there’s still an enormous amount of contact happening with voters, and conversations, and so we’re focused on ensuring that as many people as possible are able to have those conversations,” she said.
Election day is Saturday, Oct. 24.