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B.C. Green Party Leader Sonia Furstenau delivers her victory speech during a press event in Victoria, Sept. 14, 2020.

CHAD HIPOLITO/The Canadian Press

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 a fall election.

Sonia Furstenau, 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,” Ms. Furstenau said shortly after winning the party’s leadership on Monday.

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B.C. should be fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and the illicit opioid overdose crisis, not considering an election because it may benefit Mr. Horgan’s New Democrats, Ms. Furstenau added.

A fall election would be “completely irresponsible,” she said.

The new leader of B.C.'s Green party lashed out at Premier John Horgan during her victory speech. Sonia Furstenau, whose Greens have been working with Horgan's minority government since 2017, says calling an early election during the COVID-19 pandemic is irresponsible. The Canadian Press

Mr. 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,” Mr. 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.”

Mr. 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.

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Ms. Furstenau defeated Cam Brewer and Kim Darwin after two ballots in the Greens' leadership contest. She had 2,428 votes to Mr. Brewer’s 2,127 votes on the second ballot.

Ms. Darwin was dropped from the race after the first ballot when she placed third with 521 votes.

Ms. 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 BC Greens and I’m excited about the future we will build together.”

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