B.C. Greens name Dr. Sanjiv Gandhi as second deputy leader in election preparation

VANCOUVER — The British Columbia Green Party has named a second deputy leader in a move leader Sonia Furstenau says is key to preparing for the next provincial election.

Dr. Sanjiv Gandhi is the former chief of pediatric cardiovascular and thoracic surgery at BC Children’s Hospital and has been an outspoken critic of the government's health-care policy.

Furstenau told a news conference Monday that the party's leadership team, which includes deputy leader Lisa Gunderson and Green member of the legislature Adam Olsen, is core to preparing for the next election.

"We will hold the government to account while proposing evidence-based solutions, big ideas, (and) action plans," she said.

"We will work with professionals and community groups, support our candidates, build our base."

Gandhi said problems in health care are at the forefront of people's worries in the province and the public hasn't been educated properly about the risks of COVID-19.

He said B.C. doesn't have an appropriate clean-air strategy which should include HEPA filters and carbon dioxide monitors "everywhere," has weak messaging around personal protection and has a deficient COVID-19 testing system.

"I think clean air is the biggest thing that we can do and we haven't done it. Schools don't all have HEPA filters," he said.

Gandhi called wearing a mask a preventive measure similar to asking people to get annual checkups or wear a seatbelt and said he believes there should be mandatory masking in closed, indoor public spaces.

"And people are going to say 'Well, you're gonna mask forever?' I don't know. But I certainly think that during the winter season, it's something that we ought to consider from here on in," he said.

"It's not that much of a sacrifice and if it prevents kids from getting sick, people from getting sick, or hospitals from filling up, operations from being cancelled, it's well worth it.

"It's a common-sense measure and something that shouldn't be politicized."

Gandhi said he hasn't decided yet whether he will run in the next election.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 23, 2023.

The Canadian Press