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B.C. Greens’ only MLA doesn’t want party leadership

Andrew Weaver, second from right, the new Green Party of B.C. MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head, walks up the stairs of the Legislature with Green Party Leader Jane Sterk, left, and his mother Ludmilla Weaver for the swearing-in ceremony inside the Legislature in Victoria on June 6, 2013.

Chad Hipolito/The Globe and Mail

Andrew Weaver, the sole B.C. Green MLA, is facing pressure to run for the leadership of the party despite saying he has no interest in the job about to open up with the departure of the current leader.

Mr. Weaver, a noted climate scientist who is also deputy leader of the B.C. Greens, said Wednesday he is more intent on learning to be a good MLA and working on issues important to his Oak Bay-Gordon Head constituents than succeeding Jane Sterk, who is stepping down after six years.

Ms. Sterk says Mr. Weaver should reconsider. National Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, speaking as an observer on the provincial party's affairs, said it's up to Mr. Weaver but that he would be a formidable leader of the provincial party, which won its first B.C. legislature seat in the May election.

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Still, Ms. May doubted Mr. Weaver will change his mind. "There will be pressure on him, but I suspect he won't yield to that pressure."

In an e-mail, Mr. Weaver wrote that he hasn't even decided whether to seek re-election in 2017. The party, he wrote, should select an interim leader at the Aug. 24 general meeting during which Ms. Sterk has said she will resign.

"If I am the only sitting Green Party MLA and IF I decide to seek re-election in 2017, then I recognize that I would be expected to be the Leader and I would agree to seek that position. But there are two 'ifs' there," Mr. Weaver wrote from outside Canada where he is on vacation.

He won 40 per cent of the vote in his riding, defeating Liberal cabinet minister Ida Chong.

His stand appeared to catch Ms. Sterk off-guard. "Hopefully, he will change his mind," said Ms. Sterk, who touted Mr. Weaver as a leadership prospect while announcing her departure this week.

"It would be good for him to put his name into the hat for the leadership contest," she said, suggesting any leadership race is at least a year out while the party considers rules and timing. Ms. Sterk has said a competitive leadership race would be good for the Greens, and she hopes Mr. Weaver will be among the competitors. "His participation would make it exciting."

Also, she said it would be a "logical extension" for the party's only MLA to be its leader. "Hopefully, with time to reflect, he'll decide that it would be fun to put his name forward."

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Ms. May, the party's only MP, said there's an immediate sense that Mr. Weaver is the "high profile, odds-on successor to Jane Sterk," but that she knows he is focused on his work as an MLA. She said they often discussed the leadership of the B.C. Greens because it was clear Ms. Sterk wouldn't stay if she were defeated in her bid to win a seat.

The MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands spoke of Adam Olsen as a leadership prospect. The former Saanich councillor ran in Saanich North and the Islands during the provincial election and came within 387 votes of the winning NDP candidate, placing third with 31.9 per cent of the vote.

"I would think Adam Olsen would be another likely possibility for either leader or interim leader while the party is figuring how to build and elect more than Andrew in the next provincial election. Adam is fantastic."

Mr. Olsen said he isn't ruling out a run for the leadership, but that it's too soon to make any commitments. He said, in an interview, that he respects Mr. Weaver's interest in learning the ropes of being an MLA. "In the long term, should be the leader of the party? I think there are some definite strengths to having the leader of the party sitting in the legislature."

The Greens won 8.13 per cent of the popular vote in the provincial election. The Liberals won 44 per cent and the NDP 39.7 per cent, placing first and second to the Greens' third.

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