MLA Sonia Furstenau kicks off campaign to become BC Green leader

Green Party MLA Sonia Furstenau kicks off her leadership campaign. Richard Zussman/Global News

Sonia Furstenau is in.

The first-term Green Party MLA is running to be the next leader of the party. She is the first person to have declared an interest in replacing former leader Andrew Weaver, who is now an independent MLA.

“Leadership should be in its essence inclusive. It should be about building up and not tearing down. We are inviting people in,” Furstenau said.

“We are setting up a grassroots campaign that will allow us to break through in the next election.”

Weaver announced in October his plans to step down as party leader. Two weeks ago he announced he was leaving the Green Party to sit as an independent.

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Click to play video: 'Former Green Party leader to sit as independent'
Former Green Party leader to sit as independent

Weaver, Furstenau and Adam Olsen made headlines in 2017 after signing a Confidence and Supply Agreement with the NDP. Premier John Horgan needs the support of the three MLAs in the legislature to continue governing.

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She was part of the Green Party’s negotiating team that chose to support the NDP over the BC Liberals.

Furstenau entered provincial politics after a battle with Cobble Hill Holdings Ltd. over a contaminated storage site near Shawnigan Lake on Vancouver Island.

In February 2017 the previous government cancelled the waste discharge permit that allowed Cobble Hill Holdings Ltd. to receive and store contaminated soil. The company had received a permit in 2015 to turn the area into a dump site that would allow them to truck in 100,000 tonnes of contaminated soil per year.

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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

Weaver won’t say who he thinks 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 in December.

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

Olsen is currently serving as the party’s interim leader.

The Greens announced it will expand the party voter base to include those aged 16 and up who wish to support a candidate but do not wish to become a party member.

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The spending limit for each candidate is $300,000, excluding fees paid to the party. Three debates will take place after April 30. The new leader will be announced at a convention in June.

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