B.C. Green Leader Andrew Weaver, who led the party to a historic election breakthrough two years ago, will not seek re-election in the next provincial election.
Weaver reduced his work schedule as he recovered from labyrinthitis after he suddenly had symptoms typical of the condition last month, but in announcing his decision to not run again in 2021 he cited his aversion to becoming a career politician for stepping down.
He has asked the party to begin the process to elect a new leader.
The province's minority NDP government remains in power with the support of the Greens, but Weaver's decision will not immediately affect the New Democrats' hold on government because he will remain on the opposition benches of legislature.
The B.C. Liberals have 42 seats in the house, the NDP 41, the Greens three seats and there is one Independent, former Liberal Darryl Plecas, who serves as house Speaker.
Weaver, 57, is an internationally recognized climate scientist who was first elected to the legislature in the Victoria-area riding of Oak Bay-Gordon Head in 2013. He became leader of the party in 2015 after he was elected as the first Green in the provincial legislature.
He has been a University of Victoria professor for more than 20 years and has authored or co-authored over 200 peer-reviewed papers. He was a lead author on four scientific assessments by the United Nations' International Panel on Climate Change, the body that shared a Nobel Peace Prize with former U.S. vice-president Al Gore in 2007.
In 2017, Weaver and the Greens made history again when the party won three seats in the house and were courted by the B.C. Liberals and the NDP as they each positioned themselves to form a government.
The Greens eventually decided to support the NDP in an agreement that toppled the Liberals from power after 16 years. The deal included changes to campaign financing and a referendum on electoral reform, which saw a proposal to switch to a system of proportional representation backed by the Greens and New Democrats go down to defeat.
In a statement, Weaver said the agreement with the NDP shows minority governments can work well and he highlighted their work on the CleanBC economic plan as an example of its success.
"I have long said it is time we reimagined the climate crisis not solely as an environmental problem, but as an incredible opportunity for innovation, creativity, and the advancement of our society," he added.
"The decision not to run for re-election has not been easy for me. I feel a deep responsibility and pride for the role the B.C. Greens have played in getting the province back on track to meet its climate commitments and to reframe climate change as an economic opportunity — instead of a purely environmental catastrophe."
The party says it expects to elect a new leader during its 2020 convention scheduled for June in Nanaimo, with details on the contest being released in the coming weeks and months.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 7, 2019.