The Green Party is at a real crossroads.
The Green Party of Canada and the BC Greens were both founded in 1983. The Greens in B.C. won their first seat in the provincial legislature in 2013, and, of course, had a breakthrough with three seats in 2017, holding the balance of power between the NDP and the BC Liberals.
Elizabeth May was chosen as leader of the Green Party of Canada in 2006 and has been instrumental in determining its direction. After the last federal election she announced she was stepping down as leader, and a new one has not yet been selected.
Similarly, Andrew Weaver, the candidate who won that first Green seat in 2013, recently announced he was stepping down as leader of the B.C. Greens. He then announced he was even leaving the party. This was an unnecessary and strange move that has yet to be satisfactorily explained. Weaver said he was stepping away for health reasons, but it remains baffling why that has meant leaving his party entirely, while he continues to sit in the legislature.
So the Green Party is looking for new leadership both federally and provincially. They have made significant inroads into the mainstream political scene in the last couple of decades, though obviously haven’t had the electoral victories they wanted. While many like the Green Party and align with their platform, that hasn’t translated into votes come election day, and their numbers elected to government remain small. Perhaps their biggest success to date is in P.E.I. where the Greens sit as the official opposition in the provincial legislature.
What they have done is bring environmental concerns front and centre in the political debate, forcing traditional parties to develop positions on and address environmental issues during campaigns and in government.
Will the next generation of Green Party leaders be the ones to bring electoral success? Or is the party set to decline with longtime leaders stepping down?
Cowichan Valley’s MLA Sonia Furstenau is determined to see the former, as she has stepped up as a leadership hopeful for the provincial party. In this way, Vancouver Island continues to find itself right in the middle of the evolution of the Green Party, which finds itself in need of reinvigoration. The environment has never been a hotter topic than it is now.
The outcome should prove fascinating for political watchers.