Nanaimo-Ladysmith: Green Party's Paul Manly goes two-for-two in 2019 elections

Voters in Nanaimo-Ladysmith are sending Green candidate Paul Manly back to Ottawa, after electing him in a byelection just five months ago.

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“It feels really good to be re-elected and to have the confidence and the trust of the people of Nanaimo-Ladysmith. I’m going to work hard for everybody — those that didn’t vote for me and those that did,” Manly said, speaking to reporters after giving a victory speech to a crowd gathered at Cavallotti Lodge in Nanaimo.

With 219 of 256 polls reporting, Manly had won more than 20,000 votes, showing a decisive win over his opponents. It was a tight race for second, with Conservative candidate John Hirst and NDP candidate Bob Chamberlin taking a little more than 14,000 votes each. Liberal candidate Michelle Corfield was in fourth with fewer than 8,000 votes.

Manly’s election in the spring made him the second Green MP ever elected to the House of Commons, after Green Party Leader Elizabeth May. The two are joined by a third, Jenica Atwin, who won a seat in Fredericton.

Manly promised to work across party lines to tackle the climate crisis, eliciting raucous cheering and foot stomping from the crowd.

He pledged support to constituents employed in the fossil-fuel industry, saying he’ll work toward a “just transition” away from fossil fuels. “I want you to know that I have your backs.”

Hirst said he was happy with the campaign he ran in a riding that has long been considered an NDP stronghold.

“To put up a showing like we did, I feel pretty proud. I feel like we did it in such a way as well that, locally, it was a very positive campaign,” he said.

Hirst called the national results for the Conservatives “a little disappointing” but unsurprising given that the Liberals were the incumbent party.

Chamberlin said he was proud of his team despite the loss, calling Manly’s win “decisive.”

“It’s clear Nanaimo-Ladysmith voters are very much supportive of the Green Party,” he said.

Chamberlin said he was happy that Canadians have gotten to know NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, who he called “an absolutely amazing man.”

“I think the NDP are sitting very well in terms of a very capable leader,” he said.

Corfield said she was “absolutely ecstatic” that Canadians chose to re-elect Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Party.

“I’m proud of the work that my team did. I’m proud of the work that I’ve done, and I will continue to work to support Nanaimo-Ladysmith with Paul Manly and I will work with the Liberal Party to move Canada forward,” she said.

Voters in Nanaimo-Ladysmith were asked to return to the polls for the third time this year, after a provincial byelection and a federal byelection that brought Manly to power.

The federal byelection in May was triggered by the riding’s former NDP MP Sheila Malcolmson’s successful campaign to win a provincial seat in a January byelection.

A researcher and filmmaker before becoming the second Green MP ever elected to the House of Commons, Manly credited his first win in part to a growing concern about climate change that he didn’t hear on the campaign trail in 2015.

The son of Jim Manly, who served eight years as an NDP MP in the 1980s, Manly sought the NDP nomination ahead of the 2015 federal election, but was rejected by the party. He joined the Greens, taking just less than 20 per cent of the vote to finish fourth behind Malcolmson, and candidates representing the Liberal and Conservative parties.

Manly, 55, transitioned to politics after a career creating documentary films about social justice and environmental issues, because he wanted to play a more direct role in creating change.

Actor Pamela Anderson, whose hometown is Ladysmith, endorsed the Green candidate. The Baywatch star is an animal rights and environmental activist.

regan-elliott@timescolonist.com

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