Nanaimo-Ladysmith is being viewed as a key battleground riding in the Sept. 20 federal election.
Paul Manly won the riding for the Green Party two years ago in a byelection, was re-elected months later 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.
“My support in Nanaimo-Ladysmith is very strong, but I never take anything for granted,” said 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.”
The importance of the 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, while 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 that B.C. has been through a summer during which hundreds of people died from extreme heat and thousands were displaced by wildfires.
“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,” he said.
Manly is also hearing serious concerns about housing affordability and homelessness, issues he said affect a lot of people in the riding, both directly and indirectly.
He is proud of his track record as MP, he said, 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.”
— Nanaimo Bulletin (@NanaimoBulletin) September 8, 2021
In other news on the campaign trail, Liberal Party of Canada candidate Michelle Corfield criticized Manly last week for “taking credit for work that he has not performed” after he suggested the Liberals had listened to him as they announced new commitments to protect old-growth forests. The party has pledged a $50-million old-growth nature fund.
“The protection of our biodiversity is instrumental to the Liberal government’s climate action plan … the Liberal government has actively sought expert opinions and numerous consultations on the development of its courageous and ambitious … plan,” Corfield wrote in an op-ed sent to media.
Tamara Kronis, Conservative Party candidate, after her party leader O’Toole committed to funding a Nanaimo-Vancouver fast ferry service, said her party would build and re-build in ridings like Nanaimo-Ladysmith.
“We’re a party that invests. We’re a party that builds infrastructure. We’re going to see more commitments…” she said. “I am going to relentlessly pursue infrastructure and the opportunity that Nanaimo-Ladysmith deserves as the hub of Vancouver Island.”
Lisa Marie Barron, NDP candidate, criticized O’Toole for his remarks in Nanaimo this past weekend. She said in a press release that the Conservative leader gave people a glimpse of a plan that would “give the ultra-rich a free ride” and suggested people in Nanaimo want real climate change action, affordability and a more equitable Canada.
“After the recent wildfires and the housing crisis getting worse, we all know what’s at stake,” said Barron. “I want to join Jagmeet Singh’s strong NDP team in Ottawa to fight for what matters to families here – tackling the climate crisis, creating more good jobs, and making housing more affordable.”
The federal election is Sept. 20. In addition to Manly, Corfield, Kronis and Barron, Stephen Welton of the People’s Party of Canada is also running for MP.