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British Columbia Jane Sterk stepping down as B.C. Green Party leader, quitting politics

B.C. Green Party Leader Jane Sterk waits for MLA-elect for Oak Bay-Gordon Head, Andrew Weaver, to arrive for his swearing-in ceremony in Victoria on June 6, 2013.

Chad Hipolito/The Globe and Mail

Jane Sterk says she will resign as leader of the B.C. Green Party next week and the party's sole MLA would be a good replacement.

In an interview Tuesday, the party's leader since 2007 said Andrew Weaver, the Greens' only MLA, should put his name forward. She said he has demonstrated the ability to rally support by winning Oak Bay-Gordon Head – defeating Liberal cabinet minister Ida Chong – and shown the intellectual rigour to take the party to the next step.

Ms. Sterk, 66, also noted that Mr. Weaver, a respected climate-change scientist and appointee to the Order of B.C., is in the media spotlight as an MLA advancing the Green case at the legislature.

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The former schoolteacher and computer retailer said the party would be equally well served by Mr. Weaver as leader, or a competition between Mr. Weaver and a high-profile challenger.

In a statement posted to his website Tuesday, Mr. Weaver paid tribute to Ms. Sterk, but did not comment on the possibility of running for the leadership. "Jane Sterk set an example of a new style of politics, one that is inclusive, far less divisive and which invigorated the party," he said. Mr. Weaver's press secretary said the MLA was out of the country so otherwise unavailable to elaborate.

The outgoing leader said she will officially resign at the party's annual general meeting on Aug. 24, having considered her future in the months since the May provincial election in which Ms. Sterk failed to win a seat in the legislature.

"I am at a stage and age in life where I want to do other things. It's time to do them," she said.

Ms. Sterk said she was disappointed she never made it into the legislature as an MLA. But going forward, she said, the party needs to focus on assembling paid organizers, stepping up fundraising by rallying "substantial donors," and recruiting diverse, well-qualified candidates such as engineers, doctors, lawyers, business people and health-care professionals

The next election in 2017, she said, should be a provincewide effort aimed at replacing the NDP as the official opposition. That's a challenging goal: The NDP has 34 of 85 seats in the legislature, compared to one for the Greens and 49 for the Liberals. There is one other independent MLA.

Previous efforts to co-operate with the NDP have failed, she said, so the Greens should focus on replacing them and then co-operate with them. "If I were 20 years younger, that's what I would be working towards," she said.

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Ironically, B.C. NDP Leader Adrian Dix saluted Ms. Sterk, offering his "sincere appreciation" for her contribution to public life as leader of the Greens. "Jane's contribution attracted many who might otherwise have forsaken party politics," he said.

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