VICTORIA — The Green party's new leader in B.C. wants the premier to focus on COVID-19 and overdose deaths instead of fuelling speculation about an early election this fall.
Sonia Furstenau, 50, one of two Green party members in the legislature, said now isn't the time for Premier John Horgan to take steps to dissolve the house.
"To John Horgan, I say you have a responsibility to govern, not play politics," Furstenau said shortly after winning the party's leadership on Monday. "This is not the time to dissolve government, to leave a province leaderless for over a month in hopes of securing more power for yourself."
B.C. should be fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and the illicit opioid overdose crisis, not considering an election because it may benefit Horgan’s New Democrats, Furstenau added.
A fall election would be "completely irresponsible," she said. "These past few weeks, this kind of politics has reared its head again as the spectre of a completely unnecessary, irresponsible early election in the middle of a pandemic is being contemplated simply because it might benefit one party's political fortunes."
Horgan set off election speculation last week when he said the Green party he made an agreement with three years ago that allowed the NDP to form a minority government has changed.
"You know full well that the Green caucus today is not the Green caucus of three years ago," Horgan said Wednesday.
"And you will also know that nowhere in that document will you see the word 'pandemic.' So, the world we live in today is not the world of 2017."
Horgan made the agreement with previous Green leader Andrew Weaver, who stepped aside in January to sit as an Independent in the legislature.
A fixed election date is set for next fall.
Veteran New Democrats Doug Donaldson and Scott Fraser, both members of Horgan's cabinet, said Monday in statements they will not be seeking re-election. Shane Simpson, the longtime Vancouver New Democrat and a cabinet minister, said earlier this month he also will not be running in the next election.
Furstenau defeated Cam Brewer and Kim Darwin after two ballots in the Greens' leadership contest. She had 2,428 votes to Brewer's 2,127 votes on the second ballot.
Darwin was dropped from the race after the first ballot when she placed third with 521 votes.
Furstenau said the Greens are stronger because of the leadership race.
"This leadership campaign has invigorated our party," she said. "This campaign has reminded me about what's so special about the B.C. Greens and I'm excited about the future we will build together."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 14, 2020.
Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press