Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP Paul Manly has kept busy in the opening week of Canada’s 43rd Parliament.
Manly was elected to the 42nd Parliament after a by-election victory in May. In his first parliamentary appearance, Manly was presented to the House of Commons by Elizabeth May. The two strode down the green carpeted chamber smiling and holding hands to a standing ovation from members of parliament. This time around, things were different for Manly.
“Last time everything was kind of rushed,” Manly said. “When the house sits after a general election everyone comes in to the house, and there’s a whole other ceremonial process with the speech from the throne and everything else. It was interesting to witness all of that for the first time.”
On December 9, Manly released a video on his Facebook page titled, ‘My Response to Andrew Scheer’. In that video he addresses parliament for the first time in the new session. Manly made light of his two recent elections, and highlighted issues of importance to the riding.
“I’d like to thank the good people of Nanaimo-Ladysmith for electing me not once, but twice, in the last six months. I’m not excited about the idea of going back for a another election, but I know some other members here are,” Manly said.
Although he’s not excited by the prospect of yet another election, Manly voted against the Liberals’ first vote of confidence; Bill C-2, an act that would grant the federal government supplementary spending to ensure the government can run until March 31. Manly was the only opposition party member outside the Conservative party to vote against Bill C-2.
“I voted against it based on principle,” Manly said. “I knew the government was going to get support from the Bloq and the NDP. I voted against it based on what we said in the election – that we wouldn’t vote confidence unless the government came forward with better targets for climate change for 2030.”
The Liberals set a target for net-zero emissions by 2050, and pledged to reduce emissions by 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. A United Nations Emissions Gap Report predicted that Canada will miss its 2030 emissions target by 15 percent.
Manly said he was also concerned about public money being spent on the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. The pipeline project is deeply unpopular in Nanaimo-Ladysmith.
Even in a scenario where another election was likely, Manly said he would still vote on principle, although the prospect of a third election would give him something to consider.
“I would not be excited about going back to another election. My vote wasn’t going to bring down the government. If there was a chance my vote would bring down the government, I might be thinking twice about how I vote,” Manly said.
Manly does see areas to cooperate with the Liberals. He said he was pleased to hear the throne speech include issues like increased affordable housing, improved healthcare, increasing mental health services, dealing with the opioid crisis, transitioning away from fossil fuels, and the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
“I look forward to working across party lines on a number of issues,” Manly said. “There’s a lot of things we need to get down to work on. I’m ready to get working on those things.”
With only three seats in the House of Commons, the Greens lack official party status. This means the party cannot receive funding for party research offices, and prevents the Greens from having a seat on parliamentary committees. Manly said that the Greens have been effective in the past by introducing amendments to government bills – once amendments to legislation are put forward, Greens can speak to those amendments in committee.
Aside from legislative work, Manly has work in looking after the riding.
Manly spoke with minister of public safety and emergency preparedness, Bill Blair about increasing police services for First Nations communities in the riding. He said Snaw-naw-as, Snuneymuxw, and Stz’uminus First Nations have all asked for an increase in police services. The communities surrounding the nations have grown, and RCMP detachments have grown, but Manly said the nations have not seen an increase in policing levels for 20 years.
Manly also had conversations with HealthCareCan about making health care infrastructure more environmentally friendly. HealthCareCan is looking to increase spending in health care infrastructure, and Manly is pushing for investment in a tertiary hospital in Nanaimo.
“We need a tertiary hospital in Nanaimo, and that will serve Ladysmith as well,” Manly said.
“The province has to decide that they want a tertiary hospital in Nanaimo, but that’s something I can advocate to the province. I think the MLAs are hearing that message. The City has supported the call for a tertiary hospital, the chamber of commerce has supported the call. It’s something that’s building in the community, and I’m willing to go to bat for federal infrastructure funding for a tertiary hospital in Nanaimo.”
With his work cut out for him, Manly said he is not looking to take on the role of Green Party leader. Long time leader, Elizabeth May, stepped down as leader following the general election. Interim leader Jo-Ann Roberts does not have a seat in parliament.
“At this stage, I’d say probably not. There’s a lot of work to be done for the riding. I’m a new MP learning the process. There’s a lot of issues that are urgent in the riding. I want to focus my attention that way for now,” Manly said.