For the first time in Canadian history, a Green Party candidate has been elected to a provincial legislature, with Andrew Weaver taking Oak Bay-Gordon Head on Vancouver Island.
Heading into the election, the party had never been in a better position to win a seat, a testament to a strategy that has focused on getting well-known candidates into ridings the party thought would be receptive to its message.
The University of Victoria professor, who was a member of a Nobel Prize-winning intergovernmental panel on climate change, beat NDP candidate Jessica Van der Veen and Liberal incumbent Ida Chong.
“We didn’t split the vote, we are the vote in Oak Bay-Gordon Head. Tonight we’ve made history, you’ve made history, we’ve all made history,” Mr. Weaver told 200 supporters at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel on Tuesday night. “When we started this campaign we decided to give it all and put it all on the line. We knew it would be challenging, that we were up against well-financed parties. But what we had that they didn’t have was grass root support … most importantly during this campaign, we had fun from the first day we came in.”
Very early on, it became evident that Mr. Weaver was the Greens’ best chance. He is extremely well known in his community, and could generate a large base of supporters and volunteers.
On Tuesday evening, many of them were on hand.
“This is historic on many fronts. In the area I live in, we have an MP, Elizabeth May, with the Green Party, and now a provincial MLA with the Green Party. Nowhere else in Canada, nowhere else in North America, do they have a single Green Party politician. That part of it is so unbelievably historical,” said Paul Pantaleo. “People truly care about where the future is going and what the future is going to be like for our next generation and for our children.”
B.C. Green Leader Jane Sterk, who ran in the adjacent riding of Victoria Beacon-Hill, said before the election she was confident she could beat NDP candidate Carole James. In the end, Ms. Sterk was not able to do so.
The defeat likely spells the end of her political career.
Despite the loss, Ms. Sterk still appeared to be in high spirits on Tuesday, standing on stage with Mr. Weaver and his family. “I want to thank everyone who voted for the Green Party. Andrew will be a tremendous MLA. We have a B.C. Liberal majority government, one that wants to see four or five [liquid natural gas] plants. … I’m looking forward to Andrew keeping government to account like no other person in this province can do.”
Mr. Sterk had put up strong showings in both the radio and television debates, her only real chances to articulate to the province her party’s stand on some of the major issues.
Adam Olsen, the Green candidate in Saanich North and the Islands, was neck and neck with Liberal candidate Stephen Roberts late Tuesday night.
It has long been speculated that if Mr. Weaver won and Ms. Sterk lost, he would likely replace her as party leader.
On Tuesday, Mr. Weaver would not comment, and thanked Ms. Sterk. “Jane continues to be a wonderful leader, I have never met someone who is so inspiring in terms of the depths of knowledge of the policy of the Green Party of B.C.,” Mr. Weaver said. “I’m looking forward to continuing to serve under Jane’s leadership in the British Columbia Green Party.