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Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver says leader from Lower Mainland would ‘benefit’ party

B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver announces that he won't be running as leader in the next provincial election during a press conference at the Hall of Honour at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, October 7, 2019.
B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver announces that he won't be running as leader in the next provincial election during a press conference at the Hall of Honour at B.C. Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Monday, October 7, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito

Green Party Leader Andrew Weaver says it would be beneficial to the BC Greens to find a leader from the Lower Mainland.

In a wide-ranging year-end interview, Weaver wouldn’t say who he think should be the next party leader after he steps down in January.

But he did acknowledge the importance of having a leader away from the party’s traditional base.

“I recognize that our growth is limited unless we have a presence in the Lower Mainland and that is something I hope that maybe the membership considers,” Weaver said.

“I think it would benefit the party to have a leader from the Lower Mainland.”

READ MORE: B.C. Green Leader Andrew Weaver will not seek re-election in 2021

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Currently MLAs Sonia Furstenau and Adam Olsen both represent Vancouver Island ridings. Neither has announced whether they are going to run for the leadership. The new leader will be chosen at the party’s convention in Nanaimo in June 2020.

The party has never had an MLA from outside Vancouver Island.

Weaver announced in October his plans to leave politics after this term and step down as leader in January. Weaver has served the party as leader since 2015.

Under his leadership the Greens have tripled their representation in the legislature, improved fundraising and reached a confidence and supply agreement with the NDP. The decision made John Horgan premier.

Click to play video 'Andrew Weaver announces plans to step down as leader of the Green Party' Andrew Weaver announces plans to step down as leader of the Green Party
Andrew Weaver announces plans to step down as leader of the Green Party – Oct 7, 2019

But Weaver is still not sure whether the agreement could be ripped up by a new Green leader and lead to either new negotiations or an early election.

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“I don’t think I can answer this right now, the premier and I have been grappling with it. These relationships take time to build, they take trust,” Weaver said.

“Theoretically they could, but there would probably be a revolt within caucus. Hopefully things can just continue on.”

Weaver says he has heard from three people so far who are going to run for leadership. No one has publicly declared their plans yet.

Click to play video 'BC Greens announce they will support NDP government' BC Greens announce they will support NDP government
BC Greens announce they will support NDP government – May 29, 2017

Deputy leader and former candidate in New Westminster Jonina Campbell has been rumoured to be considering a run. The party also has a number of local representatives in Metro Vancouver including councillors in Vancouver and Burnaby.

“I want to get behind a new voice,” Weaver said.

“I would like to see 15 people run. Fifteen diverse views. I think you will find this a friendly leadership race rather than a cantankerous one.”

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The Green Party must also find its policy footing. Weaver was a global leader on climate issues and helped build the province’s climate action plan with the government.

READ MORE: B.C. Green’s Weaver ‘very worried’ about civil disobedience after pipeline approval

But Weaver says the party must also build strong policies on education, the new economy, jobs and health care to deal with climate change becoming a more universal concern.

“There is going to have to be some reflection on what the direction will be,” Weaver said.

“It will be hard for them to hold the climate issue by themselves. There needs to be some diversification. But they are not going away.”