The election of renowned climate scientist Andrew Weaver in May gave the B.C. Green party its first sitting member in the legislature in eight provincial elections.
As the party moves forward without a confirmed leader, however, it risks painting itself into a corner and being rendered a one-hit wonder.
With the euphoria of Weaver’s victory over longtime Liberal cabinet minister Ida Chong in Oak Bay-Gordon Head having long since faded, the Greens must now face reality.
This is a party that lost ground for a third straight election, taking barely eight per cent of the popular vote in the province after achieving a high of 12.4 per cent in 2001, when the NDP were all but wiped out.
They are a party at a crossroads.
Interim leader Adam Olsen, the energetic, well-spoken former Central Saanich councillor who has a clear sense of Green policy, is a placeholder for now. While he may be seen amongst party faithful as a solid banner carrier, the chances he would inspire voters outside Greater Victoria to switch allegiances seem highly unlikely.
Jane Sterk, whose political experience was limited to one term on Esquimalt council, wasn’t the person to take the Greens to the next level, either locally or provincially.
Weaver, the “rock star” candidate who brought instant credibility to the party, made the right decision to pass on the leadership job as he learns the ropes as a rookie MLA.
The Greens, who put many of their eggs in one basket to get Weaver elected, must put the same effort into finding the right leader if they hope to become a relevant alternative to the traditional parties in B.C. in future elections.
With federal leader Elizabeth May already well established in Saanich North and the Islands, the Green movement has a golden opportunity to gain even more of a foothold.