The Nanaimo-Ladysmith riding that includes Saltair is being viewed as a key battleground in the Sept. 20 federal election.
Paul Manly won the riding for the Green Party two years ago and is back to defend his seat, but knows he’s in for a fight from the other parties. The New Democratic Party and the Conservatives have zeroed in on the potential swing riding, as evidenced by recent appearances in the area by respective party leaders Jagmeet Singh and Erin O’Toole.
The challengers for Manly’s post include: Lisa Marie Barron (NDP); Tamara Kronis (Conservatives); Michelle Corfield (Liberals); and Stephen Welton (People’s Party of Canada).
“My support in Nanaimo-Ladysmith is very strong, but I never take anything for granted,” noted Manly. “I have thousands of supporters behind me, an amazing team of hundreds of volunteers and dozens of endorsements. It’s all about getting out into the community. Every day, I’m out knocking on doors, making phone calls and showing up at events to speak with community members about their concerns. I’m also talking to people about the work I’ve done as their MP for the past two years.”
Saltair has been a focal point in Manly’s bid for re-election.
“My support in Saltair was strong in the last election and it’s still strong today,” he indicated. “We’re identifying lots of supporters and putting up many lawn signs in the area. Across the riding, my campaign continues to build momentum. The reception has been excellent. I’ve been endorsed by a wide range of community leaders, elders, business owners and well-known environmental advocacy groups.
The importance of this riding to the Greens goes without saying. Annamie Paul took over as party leader in October of 2020 from Elizabeth May and the small caucus is hoping to expand its horizons, but also wary of holding onto the representation it now has that includes Manly.
“The Green Party has very strong support on Vancouver Island, and of course it’s important for me to be re-elected,” stressed Manly. “But above all, it’s important because of the work I’m doing on behalf of our community. The climate emergency is the defining issue of our time, but our governments have failed to act with the urgency required to meet this crisis. The same thing goes for fixing problems with housing affordability and homelessness, long-term care and our social safety net. Now more than ever, we need voices outside of the mainstream political parties pushing for bold and courageous action.
“Across the country, there are many strong Green candidates. The Greens continue to have strength on Southern Vancouver Island. There are good prospects to elect Greens in Ontario and Atlantic Canada, too.”
Expanding on the issues that are concerning for both himself and constituents, Manly noted we’ve just been through a summer in B.C. where hundreds of people died from extreme heat and wildfires displaced thousands.
”People are seeing first-hand how climate change is affecting us here at home. I’m hearing these concerns on people’s doorsteps and letting them know that I’ve been pushing for the bold climate action we need. David Suzuki, 350 Canada and Leadnow have all endorsed me as a climate champion and I’m one of the top three MPs raising the issue of climate change in parliament.
“I’m also hearing serious concerns about housing affordability and homelessness. This is an issue that’s affecting a lot of people here, both directly and indirectly. This is why I put forward Motion M-66 in parliament calling for stronger regulation on the housing market. We need to end the predatory investment practices that are driving up home prices and rents.”
Serving the community as MP has been much different than Manly expected due to the pandemic.
”Many people have needed support on many fronts and I have been working hard to help them,” he indicated. “Right away when the pandemic first hit, I started contacting government ministers to raise issues and identify gaps in support programs that I was hearing from our community. My work directly contributed to making COVID supports better and more accessible for people and businesses, like increasing the wage subsidy amount for businesses.”
Manly is proud of his track record and hopes electors will give him the opportunity to continue that important work.
“I lead with good ideas on many important issues in parliament,” he noted. “My work on long-term care, housing affordability and old-growth forest conservation has influenced the election platforms of other parties. I worked across party lines and successfully got a motion passed unanimously by all parties in parliament. I have also put forward amendments to bills that have passed in parliament and directly changed Canada’s laws for the better.”
Why we’re even in an election campaign in the first place has been questioned by many, including Manly, but he’s making the best of it.
“It’s a poor choice of timing for the Prime Minister to call an election during the pandemic, especially considering parliament was working,” he conceded. “But whether we like it or not, an election is happening. I am showing up to fight for our community the same way I always do. The community deserves an MP who isn’t afraid to fight for what’s needed. The people in Nanaimo-Ladysmith can trust that I will continue to act with the courage that this moment in history demands.”