The political future of Green Party leader Jane Sterk is in the balance next week.
Sterk, who is running in Victoria-Beacon Hill against popular NDP incumbent Carole James, said in a meeting with the Times Colonist editorial board Monday that she will probably step down as leader if she is not elected.
“There are political realities to essentially losing in two elections as the leader. I am sure the party and I will make the right decision,” she said.
For now, however, Sterk is far from contemplating defeat. In fact, she’s hoping for a Green breakthrough.
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Ideally, she wants to see four Greens elected, giving the party official status, but she would settle for one elected Green to give credibility to the party for the 2017 election.
If one or more Greens are elected and Sterk is defeated, she is still likely to hand over the reins, rather than continue as leader from outside the legislature.
“Whoever gets elected will become the de facto spokesperson and leader for the party until the party has a leadership contest,” she said.
Sterk does not fear a leadership vacuum if she steps down, saying the election campaign has introduced the next generation of potential Green leaders. “I feel very relieved by that. I am egotistical enough to think I was necessary to get the party to this stage and I wanted to feel there was that capacity going forward,” she said.
If Sterk does step down, she will still be active in the party as it prepares for 2017.
The plan includes creating strong constituency associations throughout the province, with leaders trained in campaign organization, Sterk said — something that will happen whether or not the party gets a breakthrough.
Membership, now at about 1,500, will be bumped up when constituency associations are strengthened, said Sterk, who wants to see the party with sufficient funds to concentrate efforts on many ridings.
“We want fully funded campaigns everywhere,” she said.
The Greens’ best hopes for this election are centred on Vancouver Island, with Andrew Weaver running in Oak Bay-Gordon Head and Adam Olsen, a former Central Saanich councillor who is also a member of Tsartlip First Nation, running in Saanich North and the Islands.
Weaver, a University of Victoria professor of climate modelling who was part of the 2007 climate-change team that won the Nobel Peace Prize, is running against long-time Liberal incumbent and cabinet minister Ida Chong, New Democrat Jessica Van der Veen and Conservative Greg Kazakoff.
Olsen is running against New Democrat Gary Holman, Liberal Stephen Roberts and Independent Scott McEachern.