That is the second in a three-part collection of interviews with the leaders of BC’s provincial events.
Sonia Furstenau had been the chief of the BC Inexperienced Occasion for simply seven days earlier than she was thrown into marketing campaign mode on account of the snap election name by NDP Chief John Horgan.
“It’s undoubtedly been busy, and type of a continuous tempo for fairly some time now,” she stated.
She was voted in as party leader final month, after Andrew Weaver’s departure, and in an interview with Every day Hive through Zoom, she spoke about her new function, in addition to her imaginative and prescient for the celebration, and for the province.
Deciding to run for chief
Regardless of her new function, Furstenau isn’t any stranger to the BC political area, having served since 2017 because the Inexperienced Occasion MLA for Cowichan Valley.
And in the course of the previous three-and-a-half years, Furstenau stated she has “labored collaboratively with individuals on each side of the home.”
She informed Every day Hive she determined to run for the celebration’s management as a result of “we have to have a distinct sort of politics within the instances that we’re in. I actually assume that we’d like extra collaborative politics as a result of… we’ve achieved politics for therefore lengthy on these quick, four-year cycles, the place the whole lot is about: ‘Can I get extra energy within the subsequent election?’ I believe that’s improper. We’ve got to satisfy the problem of those instances otherwise.”
Working with different events
Whereas the arrogance and provide settlement between the NDP and Green Party that helped form government in 2017 ultimately fell apart heading into this yr’s election, Furstenau holds no grudges and stated she could be keen to kind the same deal, ought to the same situation play out.
“The work that now we have achieved when now we have collaborated – I level to the well being regulation committee that I used to be on with Adrian Dix and Norm Letnick – placing public curiosity, belief, and security on the centre of the whole lot,” she stated. “And since it was all three of us engaged on that committee – from all three events — and since it was a consensus-based mannequin, after we got here out with these suggestions, they weren’t politicized.”
In that scenario, “we had been all had been in a spot of settlement that that is the easiest way ahead,” she stated.
Now, “we have to apply that to all of those pressing crises that we’re in,” she continued. “And if we had been to try this within the legislature and say we would like all three events to work on these options – listening to the completely different views and transferring in the direction of the options with urgency – we may see adjustments taking place on this province quicker than we’ve ever seen.”
And whereas she’s “upset that we’re in an election,” Furstenau stated she is “going to have the very best expectations of individuals after election day, and each day after that.”
BC’s pandemic response
With regards to BC’s dealing with of the COVID-19 pandemic, Fursteanu stated she’s “proud” of what she’s seen.
“I do know we’ve had ups and downs and I do know issues aren’t excellent however when I’m strolling round and seeing individuals carrying masks… that’s been achieved with out an order coming down, however actually simply as a tenet and steerage,” she stated. “That’s an instance of how now we have navigated this so nicely.”
However past the federal government, Furstenau credited Provincial Well being Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry for the buy-in by British Columbians to do their half.
“I believe what was so efficient, from the very starting [was that] it wasn’t John Horgan giving each day updates, it was Dr. Bonnie Henry and it was Adrian Dix,” she stated. “We had been listening to from the consultants.. who understood what was taking place, and I commend all three events for a way we got here collectively. Some issues are above partisanship and I might say, many extra issues than this pandemic are above partisanship.”
In her thoughts, “we can study from this and apply this to our homelessness and housing disaster , our overdose and opioid disaster, and the local weather disaster. We owe it to this province and we owe it to the subsequent era to say we’re longer going to function within the outdated methods, we’re going to do what we did throughout COVID-19 and say that is after we rise to our absolute best selves.”
Financial system and the surroundings
Requested about how she reconciles her celebration’s environmental platforms with an financial system like BC’s the place there’s heavy reliance on pure sources for employment, Fursteanu stated the financial system must be measured by greater than “simply how a lot exercise there’s.”
A pipeline “may enhance exercise to our financial system, nevertheless it really additionally contributes to destabilizing that very same financial system. A spill within the Salish Sea undermines far more than the financial system than a pipeline may ever contribute,” she stated. “Yr over yr, decade over decade, when decision-makers have ignored proof from consultants it will get us to the place that we’re then in a disaster.”
She pointed to this fall’s wildfires within the US to additional her level.
“I can not think about a worse financial disaster than having three [or] 4 states on hearth at one time,” she stated. “We’ve got to cease pretending that our surroundings and local weather change are one way or the other disconnected from the financial system. We’ve got to attach these two and say “if we create secure, sure situations for our surroundings and local weather, we create secure, sure selections for our financial system. And after I say financial system, I’m defining it in a different way than GDP. I’m defining it as an financial system that serves individuals, well being and wellbeing, sustainability, and resiliency.”
As such, “the choice making has to acknowledge that the whole lot is related,” she stated. “We must change into very severe about recognizing the connectedness concerning the well being of our planet, concerning the well being of us. We’re depending on the well being of our planet for our well being. We’re getting that message now very deeply and now we have to take it very critically.
Housing, homelessness, and habit
With regards to homelessness within the province, Furstenau stated BC has “sort of created a conveyor belt to this disaster” – an issue she stated actually started twenty years in the past.
“Within the early 2000s when the federal government slashed so many providers, and applications that had been there to help individuals, stop individuals from falling via the social security web… that was the start of what I see as sort of the conveyor belt to the place we’re right now,” she stated.
“Then we see the overlap of that with the rising opioid disaster. We’re undoubtedly letting go of the battle on medication mentality which we have to; transferring in the direction of decriminalization, transferring in the direction of protected provide, recognizing that it is a well being disaster.”
Now, “we have to construct that conveyor belt the opposite manner, and we have to acknowledge that it’s extra expensive to go away this downside as it’s than it’s to unravel it,” she stated.
And a part of constructing this “conveyor belt within the different route” is placing housing first, she stated.
” When individuals don’t know the place they’ll sleep at night time, the instability that creates as a person is big,” she furthered. “We’ve seen all of the proof the place housing first fashions work. They lower the prices to cities, cities and areas that do that. We have to apply this right here and we have to begin from that place of human dignity. Folks want a spot to sleep that’s protected. “
To do that, she continued, “we may take a look at modular models, however may very well be transferring with actual haste and actual urgency on getting modulars in place. That’s the 1st step with helps.”
Step two is “extra supportive housing… so individuals can get much more primary stabilization of their lives and get into remedy, get into serving to with coaching,” she continued. “Folks need to be productive, they need to be contributing. Then you’ll be able to transfer into unbiased housing and other people get again on monitor with their lives. “
On her celebration and the election itself
Whereas they could have 74 candidates – as a substitute of a full 87-candidate slate – heading into election day on October 24, Furstenau stated she is inspired by the vitality and curiosity she’s skilled each inside and out of doors of her celebration.
“We’re on this second and now we have to function with what we’ve received, however I’m grateful for a way a lot curiosity there’s for what we as a celebration have to supply on this second,” she stated. “For me, all of it comes again to residence and neighborhood, neighbourhood, regional resiliency and a province through which everyone can meet their full potential and thrive.”
And though it’s been a fast transition into marketing campaign mode, Furstenau stated she feels “energized” by this objective, and the way issues have formed up and the response she’s seen up to now.
“I’m energized by the unbelievable staff, and the unbelievable candidates which have come ahead,” she stated. “I acknowledge the privilege of this chance to essentially share with individuals of this province why I’m right here, who I’m, and the place I believe we are able to go collectively.”