Green leader fending off NDP effort to swipe her seat
Just over five weeks after becoming leader of the Green Party, Sonia Furstenau is battling for her political survival.
The NDP have been putting significant effort into regaining the Cowichan Valley riding, which Furstenau won by nearly 1,900 votes in 2017. NDP Leader John Horgan has visited the riding multiple times, lending his appeal to local candidate Rob Douglas, a councillor for the municipality of North Cowichan. Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh also made an appearance alongside Douglas last weekend.
Horgan has claimed the focus on Cowichan is just part of a typical campaign.
“It’s nothing personal at all,” Horgan told reporters on Monday. “This is about choices for British Columbians.”
But Furstenau — known for pitching “a different kind of politics” with a focus on collaboration — is not going down without a fight.
On the attack
In September, she came out swinging against the NDP’s early election call, reminding voters repeatedly that the Greens were willing to continue to work with Horgan’s government. More recently, Furstenau has taken aim at the NDP and Liberals’ track records while in office.
The Green Party leader’s new favourite phrase “tinkering around the edges” has been deployed to paint a host of NDP policies — from forestry to child care to housing — as unambitious and ineffective.
On the weekend, she criticized the NDP for failing to do enough to move the needle on housing affordability and accused the previous Liberal government of taking advantage of the housing boom and creating “an economy where hard work is no longer rewarded.”
She also accused both the NDP and Liberals of “reverse gaslighting” her as they claim serious climate action plans while courting LNG development.
“Neither the BC NDP nor the BC Liberals appear to understand that we are in a climate emergency,” she said last week in response to the Liberals’ pledge to bring a second LNG export facility to B.C. “[They] seem intent on keeping us in the past by continuing to give billions in taxpayer subsidies to the fossil fuel industry.”
While her solid performance during the leaders’ debate has delivered a significant boost to her personal appeal, support for the Green Party has hovered around 15 per cent.
Still, the Greens’ chances in at least a few ridings are looking good enough that some NDP supporters are warning of the perils of splitting the progressive vote.
Furstenau strongly urged voters to reject that idea during her media avail yesterday while branding her opponents fearmongers.
“What we find in these election campaigns — and what I grow so weary of — is political parties telling you to be afraid,” she said. “Be afraid of other parties, be afraid of other people — vote for us because you’re afraid. I think people should reject that.”