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Pushed from power, B.C. Green Leader Sonia Furstenau is ready to talk minority government

Pushed from power, B.C. Green Leader Sonia Furstenau is ready to talk minority government
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VANCOUVER—It was just days after Sonia Furstenau was elected to lead the British Columbia Green Party that she found herself in a race for a seat in the legislature. Now, the Cowichan Valley MLA is trying to convince B.C. voters to elect more Greens on Oct. 24.

The election call was a surprise, what with the province still in the grip of the pandemic, and the province’s next fixed election date a year away.

Furstenau, who’s three-member caucus supported the NDP and kept its minority government alive, said the B.C. NDP was “blatantly” putting its own interests ahead of the public’s health in trying for a majority government .

Days earlier she had assured NDP Leader John Horgan, that he had her party’s support for another year. But it fell on deaf ears, Furstenau said.

“I really tried to find the better angels and to make the case that anything he wanted to do that was bold and courageous in terms of this COVID recovery, we were on board,” she told the Star in a phone interview. “We were ready to work with him for another year and really move things forward and I really think we could have actually been making some pretty monumental changes.”

She said that “integrity” has now become a campaign issue.

The B.C. Liberal party was also enraged by the election call, also accusing the NDP of putting itself ahead of the province. But the anger of the two opposition parties has not translated into anger among voters, with the B.C. NDP seeing a 16-point lead according to a recent Angus Reid Poll.

In the poll, at 14 per cent of support the Greens were 35 points behind the NDP.

The online survey of 801 members of the Angus Reid forum was conducted from Oct. 14- 15. The pollster said for comparison purposes, such a sampling would usually have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 per cent 19 times out of 20.

The same poll showed only half of those ask are “absolutely certain” of which party will get their vote.

For the Greens, Horgan’s apparent popularity could also mean a majority government and an end to the party’s voice in government. With polls showing many undecided voters, Furstenau is hoping they will turn Green and help the party form another minority government.

During her closing remarks in the only televised debate of the campaign she repeated the plea, asking the province to try for another minority government. Another deal with the B.C. NDP is something she said her party would consider, despite the NDP’s breach of the agreement.

“These are times when parties can find that shared ground, those common goals and be bolder than they can in a lot of ways as majority governments,” Furstenau told the Star. “I’m making this case to British Columbians that the very best outcome is another minority.”

The climate crisis is also top of the party’s list of issues. Furstenau said her party is naturally more willing to work with other parties to address climate and other environmental issues.

“We need decision makers who aren’t serving vested interests but who are serving people and the future,” she said. “We have grown out of a grassroots movement recognizing that decision making has not been in service to the future of the planet, to sustainability.”

The three Green party MLAs election in 2017, used their sway while in government to accomplish more than any other three-person caucus, she said.
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