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Adam Olsen is the B.C. Green Party’s outside man

Adam Olsen, interim leader of the B.C. Green Party, poses for photos where he grew up in Central Saanich, B.C., on Sept. 5, 2013.

Chad Hipolito/The Globe and Mail

But for about 400 votes, Adam Olsen would have joined Andrew Weaver as a second MLA for the B.C. Green Party after the provincial election in May.

Mr. Olsen, a former Central Saanich councillor, came a respectable third in Saanich North and the Islands, behind the Liberal candidate and the B.C. NDP winner.

The close result won Mr. Olsen credibility in Green ranks, positioning him for the post of interim leader last month after party leader Jane Sterk resigned.

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He becomes the outside man, making the Green case across B.C. while Mr. Weaver is the party's inside man in the legislature.

Mr. Olsen is 37, and a married father of two young children.

The member of the Tsartlip First Nation is involved in two family businesses, runs his own consulting firm and plans to run again in 2017.

Why the interim leaders' job and not making a play for the permanent leadership?

Because I believe in organic processes. I told the party at the end of the election I would play the role that needed to be played to continue the work we started before May. This was the role that was needed. We'll just take it one step at a time. Certainly, a play for leadership in the future is one of the things in the future, but there is some work that needs to be done now.

What do you mean by organic processes?

I've always been told by the people around me, especially my mother, that it's important to grow into the positions and opportunities that are there. As the future unfolds, we'll make decisions as that goes.

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So you're not ruling out a run for the leadership at some point in the future?

I don't think I can rule anything out at this stage. I have to just do this job well first.

Do you agree with Jane Sterk's view, outlined in an interview with The Globe and Mail last month, that the party needs paid organizers, substantial donors for fundraising and a province-wide 2017 campaign?

Certainly, I think having large funders, large donations is helpful in building a political party. Having paid organizers? I think it would be nice if we could afford [it].

We'll make those decisions as the resources expand and in terms of a province-wide campaign. Yes. I think we need to present the party as an option and an opportunity for voters all across the province. So, yes, I generally agree with what she's saying.

How many seats should the Greens aim for in the next election? Party status? More?

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I haven't put any numbers on that. Certainly having party status would be beneficial, and having the balance of power would be another interesting potential outcome.

To say we're good for party status is shooting a little low or maybe official opposition may be shooting a little high. I just think we need to continue to organically grow.

How do you get voters who see the Greens solely as the environment party to pay attention to policies on the economy, crime, health and other issues?

The party has got good bases for policy in other areas than the environment. It's about how we articulate that. We did a good job in Saanich North and the Islands articulating it and Andrew did a great job of it in Oak Bay-Gordon Head, and now I think we need to take that and amplify it.

Do you see this as a challenge?

It's a communications challenge, for sure. Absolutely. A critical part of the party going forward is to continually strengthen those policies so they're credible.

This interview has been edited and condensed

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About the Author
B.C. reporter

Ian Bailey is a Vancouver-based reporter for The Globe and Mail.  He covers politics and general news. Prior to arriving at The Globe and Mail, he reported from Toronto and St. John’s for The Canadian Press.  He has also covered British Columbia for CP, The National Post and The Province. More


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