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BC Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau shifting to Victoria-area riding

Furstenau leaving Cowichan Valley to challenge cabinet minister Grace Lore in Victoria Beacon-Hill
B.C. Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau will be running in Victoria Beacon-Hill instead of Cowichan Valley. She made the announcement Wednesday in Victoria. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito)

BC Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau is leaving the Cowichan Valley to instead run against provincial cabinet minister Grace Lore in Victoria-Beacon Hill.

Furstenau made the announcement Wednesday (Jan. 31) in Victoria.

“Victoria is not just a location on the map, it’s where my story really originates,” she said, citing to her grandparents and parents’ connections to the community. “And it’s where I spent two formative decades of my life. It’s the city where I attended university, raised my eldest son and build a community that I hold dear…

“Victoria is not only the political heart of B.C, it’s also in where my heart is.”

Furstenau has won Cowichan Valley twice, first in 2017, then in 2020. But the independent commission overseeing B.C.’s electoral ridings recently revised across southern Vancouver Island to give the region another seat. Furstenau acknowledged that the revisions surprised her, but cited family behind her decision to go south. She said her oldest son and his new wife currently live in Victoria, while her youngest son is currenlty attending the University of Victoria.

“I’m deeply committed to being near my children and my family and that is at the root of our decision,” she said.

Furstenau’s decision can be read as a gamble. Voters in Victoria Beacon-Hill have historically favoured New Democrats. The riding has been in the NDP’s column in every election since 2005 with former NDP leader and finance minister Carole James having held the riding until 2020. Running for the BC Liberals in 2001, Jeff Bray was the last non-New Democrat to win the riding.

Lore also has the status of a cabinet minister after Premier David Eby recently appointed her as Minister for Children and Family Development.

Furstenau implicitly acknowledged the historical strength of the NDP in the riding, but also signalled confidence in her decision.

“I have defied expectations in every election I have run and I have won in every election I run in and that’s my intention in this riding,” she said. “I will demonstrate not only the importance of having a strong Green voice in the legislature, but having a strong committed constituency MLA in the riding.”

RELATED: BC Greens will demonstrate ‘new level of strength’ in 2024: Furstenau

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Furstenau’s decision also raises another question: will she step down as leader if she fails to win the riding?

“During the election, I’m focused on running a provincial campaign as leader of the BC Greens,” she said, noting her status as the only returning leader from the 2020 provincial election. “I’m focused on presenting to British Columbians an option for them to vote for something that they can believe in, that they can be excited by, that they will have a feeling of hope and expectation that things can improve because they absolutely can.”

“As to what happens after the election, that’s a decision that gets made after the election,” she said.

Furstenau added that she will be supporting candidates around the province, while running a strong campaign in her new riding.

Furstenau’s announcement comes as the party is off its pace — as least as measured by polls — from its results in 2020 and 2017. A Research Co. released Wednesday shows the party with 11 per cent support. When asked whether BC Greens has retained relevancy in B.C.’s current political discourse, Furstenau said her party remains the only party that is looking at the realities of climate change.

“We are a party that is rooted in focusing on the well-being of British Columbians and the necessary work that government has to do to deliver the services that people in this province feel they can no longer count on,” she said. “We will continue to put solutions forward.”

Furstenau also promised additional candidate announcements in the future.

BC Greens currently hold two seats in the legislature — Furstenau’s and Saanich North and the Islands held by Adam Olsen.


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Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
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