That is the third a part of a three-part series of profiles on the leaders of B.C.’s major political parties within the run-up to the provincial election on Oct. 24. Take a look at our profiles on BC NDP leader John Horgan and BC Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson.
On Sept. 14, Sonia Furstenau won the BC Green Party leadership. On Sept. 21, she found herself within the midst of a provincial election campaign.
Speak about per week to recollect.
After coming out on top in a field of three leadership hopefuls, Furstenau’s first order of business was to attempt to persuade BC NDP Leader John Horgan that the Greens would proceed to support his government within the legislature. Horgan called the election anyway.
Since then, Furstenau has been focused on attempting to persuade voters one other minority government is what is required.
“Truthfully I feel I ought to be considered one of the those who ought to be leading this province. I feel leadership is best when it just isn’t multi function person’s hands,” Furstenau said.
“I feel leadership is best when it’s recognized as something that’s inclusive, that’s inviting of various ideas. My approach to leadership has never been, ‘I actually have all of the answers.’”
Furstenau first got here on the provincial political scene in 2014 when she led the charge against soil dumping above Shawnigan Lake. In her fight to guard clean water for her Vancouver Island community, she ran for local government, organized rallies and fought for the province to revoke the corporate’s permit.
The permit was cancelled in 2017.
That very same yr, within the midst of her advocacy work, she decided to run for the BC Greens — becoming a part of the record-breaking group of three Green MLAs.
The 50-year-old’s first big responsibility after winning election was as a member of the Green negotiating team working to pick whether or not they would support the NDP or the BC Liberals in forming government. Furstenau had such a robust response to contemplating supporting the Liberals and then-leader Christy Clark that she vomited in her Victoria room.
She describes her own leadership skills as “relentless curiosity” and has an intense give attention to listening.
“Every single day I come to terms with how much I don’t know. But I can at all times be in a spot of wanting to learn more and wanting to do higher,” Furstenau said.
“And the foundational piece for me in all of this, from the moment I leaned into the work in Shawnigan (is) … it’s not about me, it’s about how I can use my skills and what I learned and the way I can use that to serve the people of my community.”
Family is incredibly vital to Furstenau. Her father was born in East Germany in 1939 just before World War II. His father died in a prisoner of war camp and his mother got typhoid. She survived and he moved together with his family in his teenage years to Sidney.
Furstenau’s dad taught himself English, got himself through school and pushed his daughter with the mantra that education was the whole lot.
“He instilled in me a passion for democracy because democracy is the alternative of what happened in East Germany,” Furstenau said.
On the opposite side of the family, the Green Party leader brings up her grandmother. She was raised on Saturna Island and continues to be an incredible inspiration to Furstenau.
“She was a feminist before we knew what feminism was,” Furstenau said. “She was an incredibly fierce and incredible woman.”
The mother of 5 — three biological children and two step-children — is using her own experience to navigate the campaign trail.
Her 26-year-old son Nicholas is on the campaign along with her, taking pictures and helping run the digital side of the campaign.
Her best friend Maeve is along with her on the campaign as well, in what Furstenau describes as their “little bubble.”
“If it just relentless joy,” she said.
It was the challenge of raising Nicholas as a single parent that helped shape her, she says: struggling through attempting to work out where she can be living along with her son and the way she would pay the bills.
“It deeply undermined my ability to be the very best parent, to be the very best student or to be the very best employee, because I at all times needed to have a job occurring at those times,” Furstenau said.
“Understanding what it’s like to evaluate all this stuff. Having the financial pressures, attempting to move forward and get the education needed to get a very good job. That’s my experience, I get that. But I actually have to hunt down and take heed to others.”
The highlight of Furstenau’s campaign up to now has been the televised debate. She was in a position to introduce herself to a provincial crowd by taking over Horgan while also reflecting on her own white privilege.
It is usually hard to appreciate when watching that she put herself in a tricky situation. Furstenau was expecting her questions for the opposite leaders to be on a teleprompter, nevertheless it was a screen she couldn’t see from her podium. She also didn’t have the questions along with her on the stage — forcing her to wing it.
“I used to be in denial. ‘This will’t be happening,’ I assumed. I wrote a note and I held it as much as (advisor) Evan (Pivnick) but he couldn’t read all of it the best way within the back,” Furstenau said.
Furstenau is now hoping the following time she is on the stage, with a bulk of the province watching, is on election night as she celebrates the victories of some latest caucus colleagues.