The Green Party’s win in the Nanaimo-Ladysmith byelection in British Columbia signals that climate change and other environmental issues will be at the top of Canadians’ minds during the federal election campaign this fall, victorious candidate Paul Manly said Monday night.
“It sends a message clearly that we’ve seen a wave come across from Prince Edward Island…that people are serious about climate change,” Manly said. “It’s time to step up and do what needs to be done and have a little bit of political courage to deal with climate change properly,” he added. “Stop subsidizing the fossil fuel industry.”
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As an MP, he told supporters, he plans to focus on “how we can change the economy that we are working in to protect the environment that we need for our health, for our children, for our grandchildren. How we can do a better job of taking care of people who are less fortunate.”
With 96% of the polls reporting, Manly held 37.1% of the vote, compared to 25.1% for his Conservative opponent, 22.9% of the New Democrat, and 11.1% for the Liberal. The riding was previously held by NDP MP Sheila Malcolmson.
Manly’s dad, Jim Manly, served as the NDP MP for Cowichan-Malahat-The Islands from 1980 to 1988.
Greens campaign manager Ilan Goldenblatt “said voters in Nanaimo served notice to the Liberals, Conservatives, and New Democrats that Canadians want more movement on environmental issues,” The Canadian Press reports.
“There’s a real strong sense here on the West Coast and on Vancouver Island that the three old-line parties are just slow on the uptake on actually committing to real action,” Goldenblatt said.
Manly added that it’s time for Ottawa to stop subsidizing the “old” economy. “We moved beyond the horse and buggy, and it’s time to move beyond the internal combustion engine,” he said. “Those days should be over. It’s time to move forward.”
In the immediate aftermath of the byelection vote, which followed major gains in the April 23 provincial election in Prince Edward Island, federal commentators were suddenly looking at the Greens in a new light.
“Voters in Nanaimo-Ladysmith may have wondered if a byelection so near to this fall’s federal vote was worth the trip to the ballot box,” the Globe and Mail writes. “But their decision to send a Green MP to Parliament—the second seat for the party—is being taken seriously by political parties, commentators, and citizens as an indication of the Greens’ rise to mainstream politics.”
“It shows that the Green Party brand is on the political menu for Canadians,” pollster Nik Nanos told the Globe. “The Nanos polling suggests that the Greens eat the lunch of both the Liberals and the New Democrats—that for disappointed Liberals, or New Democrats who are not as enthusiastic about [leader] Jagmeet Singh, they’re looking at the Greens as an alternative to both of the other traditional parties.”
High school teacher Alistair King told the Globe that climate change was the top issue on voters’ minds.
“That was the ballot box question: What are we going to do about our future? And I think the answer is pretty clear—that we need to do something different as a community,” he said. At the same time, “I think everyone in the back of their minds, at least I did, recognized that this is only going to be a temporary posting, so we just said, ‘Try it before you buy it,’ and people are going to try out Paul Manly and see what the Green Party has to offer.”