Local MLA Adam Olsen says family commitments were probably the primary reasons for not running for the leadership of the B.C. Greens.
“I have a 12-year-old and a 7-year-old, and they are just getting right into that time of life, where they are going to need to have their parents around,” Olsen said Sunday.
“I have a really busy life, and taking a look at what the requirements of leadership are and the expectations of going around the province doing the work to build a party, I don’t want to add those duties onto the workload I already have.”
Olsen, Green MLA for North Saanich and the Islands, made these comments after the party recently announced on Dec. 20 the rules for their leadership campaign, as well as Olsen’s appointment as an interim leader, a position that prevents him from running for the party’s leadership. Olsen also held the title of interim leader in 2015.
The B.C. Greens are selecting a new leader after Andrew Weaver had announced his decision that he would step down as leader. The leadership race itself starts Jan. 6 and the party expects to announce its new leader June 27 following voting between June 15 and June 26. The party has scheduled a convention in Nanaimo June 26 to June 28.
Olsen said it was a relief to make Friday’s announcement. “We have been talking about this through the fall session, and I became quite comfortable in more recent days that this [not running for the leadership] was the right decision to make,” he said.
Writing on his website, Olsen said earlier that he has “deep respect” for the requirements of the job. “My life is busy, I have a strong commitment to my constituency and legislative work and continuing to grow into my role as a Member of the Legislative Assembly,” he said. “In addition, I have a young family and so when I added up all of these considerations, including the sage advice to be patient, I knew this was not my time.”
This said, Olsen did not rule out a leadership run in the future.
Looking ahead to the actual contest, Olsen said the rules of the contest offer the party an opportunity for growth, as all British Columbians aged 16 and up are eligible to participate in the leadership process if they declare themselves party supporters without joining the party itself.
Olsen said this new category of supporter reflects the reality that political parties are changing, with fewer people formally joining political parties. This way, people from across British Columbia can express their support for the party, without becoming members, he added. “It is just a recognition that we want this to be an inclusive process and attract the diversity of the province, but also recognize that people don’t necessarily want to be members of a political party,” he said.
Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland and a yet-to-be-determined location elsewhere in British Columbia will each host one of the three leadership debates to take place after April 30.
Olsen’s pending interim leadership marks the second time he had held that role.
“We are definitely in a different situation than they were the last time I was the interim leader,” he said. Compared to 2015, the party has expanded its presence in the provincial legislature and its provincial outreach.
“From my perspective, I am looking at the race overall, and I am hopeful and I believe that we will attract a number of candidates,” he said. “There will be a good debate and good discussion about the vision they will have for the province, and how we as an organization can support and grow that.”
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