An election that produces a minority government means no one gets exactly what they want – and that might not be an entirely bad thing.
Canadians are about find out if a minority Parliament works for them, and that will mean something different to each voter.
In Nanaimo-Ladysmith, we’ve elected a Green Party MP, and some now wonder what it will mean that we have entrusted our representation to a party with three seats that doesn’t hold any kind of balance of power.
The ballots show a plurality of voters here share Green values. Will our voting intentions, our political leanings, our hopes be heard in a House of Commons with so many competing, contrasting views? I think the answer to that question is yes, no, sort of and sometimes.
“We’ll carry on the same way, being a conscience in Parliament, putting forward good ideas and then working across party lines to try to get those ideas implemented in legislation,” said Manly.
He said Green Party leader Elizabeth May has been “really successful in getting amendments passed” over the years, most of that time as the party’s only MP. Though the Greens don’t have party status and don’t get to be part of committees in the House, they can present to those committees, and now, with three MPs, they can theoretically be in more places at once on Parliament Hill.
The Greens will try to make their voices heard, but other parties have limited obligations to listen. Manly said even though the Liberals don’t have a majority, they’re in “a fairly strong position.”
“It’s the budget that they need to get a vote of confidence on, and all the other things, they can be working with different parties on the things that they agree on,” Manly said. “There’s a lot of things in common with the Conservatives, so they’ll have no problem ratifying [USMCA], they’ll have no problem doing final approvals for pipelines, those kind of things.”
A wedge between the Greens and the Liberals will be energy policy. May said last week “it is past time for Liberals to stop pandering to climate [change] deniers” and pipeline politics might feel discouraging for Manly and a lot of Canadians right now. During a climate emergency that won’t wait, the federal government has another four-year mandate to work toward securing a long-term future for oil extraction.
“They own the asset, so they’re just going to improve the asset, and, I think, push through with it, which is really unfortunate,” Manly said. “Because it just means once you have a pipeline in place and they’re trying to sell it to somebody, that company’s going to want to keep the oil flowing for decades and that’s not what we need to be doing right now.”
He said it’s not a matter of shutting down industry, but refocusing efforts, adding that the government should lead by setting targets and moving subsidies toward renewables to incentivize companies to follow. The Liberals have some of those same notions within their platform, though the targets, scope and timelines differ greatly from what the Greens would wish.
But again, no party will get everything it wants right now. Manly pointed out that even in a majority Parliament, creating legislation doesn’t happen fast.
“And when you listen to the analysts now, they’re talking about how the process is going to slow down even more because it’s a minority government,” he said.
Being part of that process is one of his jobs, and it won’t always be easy being Green, one of three in a chamber of 338. But as Manly puts it, “the real work of MPs is to represent constituents.” Here or in the House, he will be the duly elected, honourable member for Nanaimo-Ladysmith, and that should be empowering.