VANCOUVER - The first-ever Green party member elected to the British Columbia legislature says he's not interested in becoming interim leader following Jane Sterk's retirement, while signalling that he may one day seek to permanently take the reins of the party.
Andrew Weaver was elected in the May provincial election in what was a historic breakthrough for the Greens, and Sterk's announcement this week that she is preparing to retire has raised the inevitable speculation that Weaver might replace her.
Weaver issued a statement Wednesday saying leading the party is itself a full-time job and he's not interested in becoming the interim leader.
However, Weaver said that could change once the party searches for a permanent replacement, particularly as the next provincial election, currently scheduled for 2017, draws near.
"I consider it in the best interests of my constituents, the party and the province if, for now, I focus on my role as MLA and support a new interim leader who can concentrate on building the party," said Weaver's statement, which was posted to his website.
"I recognize that in the lead-up to the 2017 election, should I decide to seek re-election and if I am the only sitting Green Party MLA, then it would be natural to seek leadership of the party at that time."
The statement noted that if Weaver were to become interim leader, he would be ineligible to run in the subsequent leadership race.
Sterk took to Twitter on Tuesday, telling her followers she plans to formally announce her retirement at the party's annual generally meeting later this month.
Sterk tweeted that she had reached her best-before date and was looking for new adventures, later telling reporters that it was a decision she had been considering for some time. She also said she hoped Weaver would consider replacing her.
The announcement came three months after a provincial election in which the Greens elected a member to the legislature for the first time in the party's history.
Weaver, a climate scientist who taught at the University of Victoria, was part of an international team that won a Nobel Prize in 2007. He had been considered the Greens' best chance for victory. He defeated a sitting Liberal cabinet minister in his riding of Oak Bay-Gordon Head, winning by a margin of 2,500 votes.
Sterk, however, did not win her riding of Victoria-Beacon Hill, where she lost to former New Democrat leader Carole James, but she was the only other Green to capture more than 30 per cent of the vote.
The party is scheduled to hold its annual general meeting in Vancouver next Saturday, during which it will elect a new provincial council.
The incoming council will then select an interim leader and decide when to call a leadership convention.
Weaver's statement suggests he may favour a timeline that would see the party wait to choose a permanent leader until closer to the next election, but he is currently out of the country and unavailable to comment in more detail about his own future or the future of the party.
Sterk was elected leader in 2007 and took the party through two elections, in 2009 and 2013.
She was previously a councillor in the Township of Esquimalt, where she was elected in 2005.
Sterk ran, and lost, as a federal candidate under the Green banner in 2004.
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