The second-ever elected Green Party of Canada MP has started working for constituents.
Paul Manly, elected with 37 per cent of the vote in last week’s Nanaimo-Ladysmith byelection, made it to Ottawa by the end of the week.
“I’m just going to buckle down and work really hard for the next six month and build the confidence of the electorate and hope to get re-elected in October,” Manly told the News Bulletin last week.
The aftermath of the May 6 vote had Manly hopping with more than a dozen interviews the next day. His only chance to talk to party leader Elizabeth May that day, he said, was via satellite link as they were waiting to be jointly interviewed on CPAC.
He didn’t know an exact date when he would be sworn in as Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP, but said he didn’t think he would get a chance to sit in the House of Commons as a member of Parliament until the first week of June. Before then there will be an orientation process and Manly said he also hopes to get a chance to sit and observe the house at work.
“First things first, I’ve got to get my constituency office up and running…” he said. “I really want to get to work on the issues that are important to the constituents in Nanaimo-Ladysmith.”
One of the first items on that list, Manly said, is affordable housing, which he said seemed to be “top of mind” for a lot of citizens he talked to during the byelection campaign.
“It’s so key. It’s connected to so many other things like this homeless crisis that we’re having, the mental health and addiction crisis that we’re having. We need to deal with these things.”
He said he’s had a lot of recent conversations with community and business leaders and wants to continue that dialogue to continue “to get up to speed,” but also to find what he’ll be able to provide support from the federal level.
Manly hopes all the research and reading that he’s done will allow him to be able to “hit the ground running” in Ottawa. A Green Party MP has to be well-versed on a lot of subjects beyond environment and climate change.
“We’re not a one-issue party … It’s really about putting people and the planet ahead of profits. It resonates with people, once people start digging into the policy book,” Manly said. “The more people I talked to at the door and they asked me about where we stand on health care or seniors or students, all those kind of things, I explained our policies and how they would work and how we would pay for them, people get primed up and they’re excited about it.”
He isn’t sure what his role will be in the fall general election and how much national campaigning he’ll be able to do, but he thinks his byelection victory could be a sign of things to come.
“There’s a number of places across Canada that have a strong Green presence including P.E.I., New Brunswick where the three MLAs won, Guelph in Ontario, and of course on Vancouver Island here, and the Lower Mainland,” Manly said. “There’s going to be some pickups from this and I think that it can only help the Green Party coming into this election.”