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Greens turn out to welcome new interim leader

BC Green Party leader Adam Olsen and Nelson Creston Green Party candidate Sjeng Derkx shared stories at the public dinner Saturday night. — Suzy Hamilton photo

By Suzy Hamilton, The Nelson Daily

Being Green is all about the freedom to represent your constituents, the interim BC provincial Green Party leader told a  dinner crowd of about 100 at the Rod and Gun Club in Nelson Saturday night.

“It’s always good that the other parties know we meet at the Rod and Gun Club, “Adam Olsen joked to the partisan crowd.

But partisanship is the furthest thing from Olsen’s vision for the Greens as interim leader.

He cited Oak Bay-Gordon Head  MLA Andrew Weaver’s Green breakthrough in the May election, and his ability to represent his riding’s views, not the views of the leader of the party.

“Weaver can say what he wants. He rolls up his sleeves and gets to work,” said Olsen.

“The frustration is evident, having Andrew Weaver in the legislature. (Other MLAs) don’t have the freedom that he does to fully represent British Columbia.”

“What if all 85 members of the legislature were free to address the doctor shortage in Kaslo, or Selkirk College, or schools as a community resource centre instead of single use facilities?”

Olsen, 37, toured  the West Kootenays this past weekend with stops at Creston, Nelson Mayor John Dooley’s office, Cottonwood Market and a group of Castlegar councilors.

“Local government is the most important,” said Olsen. “It’s the one that actually gets something done.”

Olsen, a member of the Tsartlip First Nation on Vancouver Island, is married and the father of two young children. He is a former Central Saanich councilor and BC Green Party candidate in the last election who missed gaining the second Green seat by just 400 votes.

“That was the best failed election that ever happened,” he said.

A businessman and consultant, he said the biggest mistake the Greens have made is to identify themselves as a one issue party.

“We are fully franchised and we have not articulated that we are not just environmentalists. There is no ‘triple bottom line’, it’s all the same thing. We need to do a better job letting people know we are an inclusive party.”

An articulate and entertaining speaker, Olsen credits his stage presence with his high school years in music and drama. “And I come from a line of preacher men and linguists.” 

He was inspired to join the Green Party because of one person: the first federal Green elected in North America, Elizabeth May.

“I’m intensely non-partisan and I was attracted to the Green Party because of her.”

The night was not all political back slapping and strategy.

After speeches by the EcoSociety’s David Reid on Jumbo and 2013 Nelson Creston candidate Sjeng Derkx, Randy, the Redneck from Creston (aka Lucas Myers)  made a solo appearance from his band, Savage Peace, and delighted the audience with his tribute song, “Mother Nature…I’m Sorry.”

Tongue fully in cheek, Olsen commented: “It was interesting to open with a redneck and close with a Indian.”