Nanaimo-Ladysmith’s former MP is pondering what his political future holds in the aftermath of the 2021 federal election.
Paul Manly, Green Party of Canada candidate, placed third in the election, behind Nanaimo-Ladysmith’s next MP Lisa Marie Barron of the NDP and runner-up Tamara Kronis of the Conservatives.
Manly told the News Bulletin he recently closed his campaign office and will now spend some time with his family. He doesn’t know what will come next, but doesn’t rule out running for office again. He feels “there’s still a lot of work to do.”
Manly was pleased with his campaign, calling it “clean” and “positive,” but said he was up against “the usual kind of dirty politics of attack ads and whisper campaigns.” That’s not the way politics should work in Canada, he said.
“I think the nature of politics is based on a lot of negativity, and it’s based upon a lot of attacks,” he said. “You just need to watch this in the House of Commons. It’s a very toxic workspace. People yelling across the floor, and in some cases, very demeaning things.”
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Because of a byelection and early elections, Manly never served a full four years, but said he made the most of his time. He and his staff ran a non-partisan office.
Asked about some of his accomplishments, he expressed that he was proud of his work with disability advocates and others on medical assistance in dying legislation.
“I listened to them and I put forward amendments to the medical assistance in dying bill to protect people, to provide better protection for people with disabilities,” he said.
Manly said no one else submitted those types of amendments and he managed to get one passed, while another, “with similar wording” was passed in the Senate later on.
“My motion on long-term care was costed by the parliamentary budget office and it received a lot of positive attention,” said Manly. “We got national news coverage … and it was picked up by the Liberals for part of their election promise in their platform. Not the fully costed program that I was pushing for, but it really demonstrated the need in long-term care for major fixes.”
As for the riding’s most pressing issue, Manly said climate change threatens constituents’ well-being, health care and the economy.
“We’ve been very lucky in this last fire season, with the severe drought, that we didn’t have the kind of fire season that they had in the Interior, but we could end up with that kind of fire season … and that threatens the safety and security of our communities,” said Manly, also mentioning concerns about wildfire smoke.
He said “more severe, less predictable storms” and heat waves and salmon streams drying up are also worrisome.
Elizabeth May, Saanich-Gulf Islands MP and former Green Party leader, recently penned an op-ed critical of Annamie Paul, who announced her resignation as party leader. Manly said he didn’t have direct knowledge or experience with much of what May mentioned, as he tried to keep “his head down” and do the work of an MP.
“I worked with Annamie on a number of issues and we had a working relationship right through,” said Manly. “I continued to have meetings with her, I invited her to come to Nanaimo-Ladysmith before the writ drop for my campaign launch … I think it’s been a difficult time for [her] and for the party.”
When asked what direction he sees the federal Greens going, Manly said “forward.”
“We’re connected to Greens around the world and to our provincial counterparts…” said Manly. “We’re independent parties, but we’re part of a Green movement and we have a place within the political structure of the country. I think that we’ve had a setback, but it’s just going to be a matter of working on rebuilding.”
While Manly said he could run again, he didn’t seem keen on vying for the vacant leadership position.
“I of course thought about those kind of things, but I’m not really interested in being a permanent leader for the party,” Manly said.