British Columbia

B.C.'s Greens win first provincial seat

The Green Party of British Columbia has won a provincial seat for the first time in history, the CBC projects, in a major breakthrough that looks set to change the political dynamic in B.C.

But historic victory in Oak Bay-Gordon tempered by party leader Jane Sterk's defeat

Big Green win in B.C.

10 years ago
Duration 7:35
Interview with Andrew Weaver, the first Green Party MLA in B.C. history

The Green Party of British Columbia has won a provincial seat for the first time in its history, in a major breakthrough that could change the political dynamic in B.C.

Andrew Weaver is set to be elected in Oak Bay-Gordon Head, defeating incumbent Liberal and government minister Ida Chong as well as NDP candidate Jessica van der Veen.

Climate change scientist Weaver picked up 9,602 votes, easily beating Chong  with 7,124 votes and van der Veen with 6,772 votes.

The news was not so good in Victoria-Beacon Hill where Green Party Leader Jane Sterk garnered 7,852 votes, behind NDP incumbent Carole James with 11,335.

In an unexpectedly close race in Saanich North and the Islands, Green Party hopeful Adam Olsen placed third with 9,294 votes, behind Liberal candidate Stephen P. Roberts  with 9,629 votes and NDP hopeful Gary Holman  with 9,681 votes. 

The Greens went into the 2013 election riding high on the success of federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, who won her Saanich-Gulf Islands seat in the 2011 federal election.

May captured 46 per cent of the vote share, earning her party's first elected seat in Parliament and unseating former cabinet minister and longtime incumbent Gary Lunn, a Conservative.

But despite May's success, the B.C. Greens have faced a tough challenge promoting itself against the experienced B.C. Liberal and NDP teams.

The party has consistently lost ground since capturing 12 per cent of the provincial vote in 2001. In 2005, the party won just over nine per cent of the popular vote.

In 2009, support fell to just over eight per cent of the popular vote.

Leader Jane Sterk previously ran for the Greens in the 2004 federal election and the 2005 provincial election, but remains a relative political unknown in the province.

Green roots

The B.C. Green Party was launched in 1983 as part of the international network of Green parties around the world.

That year, the new party — led by prominent environmentalist Adrienne Carr — ran four candidates in the provincial election and received a total of 3,078 votes, or just under 0.2 per cent of the popular vote.

The Green vote climbed slowly through the 1980s, but overall support remained marginal at less than 0.5 per cent, and the party struggled under factional leadership to find mainstream recognition.

In the 1990s, the party broadened its focus to include social issues and electoral reform, but despite new leadership, it continued to struggle, failing to pick up even two per cent of the vote.

By 2000, Carr had returned and, with the support of environmentalists, once again took control of the party.

As the NDP government collapsed heading into the 2001 election, Carr had some success positioning the party as a centrist alternative in B.C.'s traditional left-right political split.

For the first time, a Green party leader was included in the leaders' debate, and while it fielded 72 candidates and picked up more than 12 per cent of the total vote, it still failed to win a seat.

In the 2005 provincial election, the Greens ran a full slate of 79 candidates. But facing a resurgent NDP led by Carole James, the party's share of the overall vote dropped to nine per cent, and it once again failed to win a seat.