Green New Deal News

B.C. MP Paul Manly takes a pass at leadership of Green Party of Canada

Green politician Paul Manly ran in two elections within five months of each other this year.

Understandably, the Nanaimo-Ladysmith MP-elect is not keen on waging another campaign, even if it’s for the leadership of the Green Party of Canada.

“I have so much on my plate right now that to take off on a leadership race and travel across the country to do that just doesn’t seem like it’s the right thing for me,” Manly told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview.

Not interested as well is Jenica Atwin, who became the third elected Green MP after winning Fredericton in the October 21, 2019, ballot.

This could mean that no Green elected MP will be vying for the post vacated by former party leader Elizabeth May.

May, who has secured a third term as MP for Saanich–Gulf Islands, will remain parliamentary leader of the three-member Green caucus.

Former CBC broadcaster Jo-Ann Roberts serves as interim leader. The next leader will be chosen at a convention in Charlottetown in October 2020.

“I’m a new MP, and there’s a lot of issues that we face here in Nanaimo-Ladysmith,” Manly said.

Manly first won Nanaimo-Ladysmith in the May 6, 2019, by-election. He was reelected in the October 21 regular election that followed.

“I already heard about a couple of people stepping up,” Manly said without mentioning names.

One of them could be David Merner, who ran and lost in the last election as Green candidate in Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke.

Merner has confirmed to Straight editor Charlie Smith that he will be running for leader of the Green Party.

A former Justice Department lawyer, Merner was a member of the Liberal Party for many years.

In 2012, Merner mused about running for the post of Liberal leader. In 2015, he ran and lost as the Liberal candidate in Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke.

Merner switched to the Greens last year, citing the broken election promises of the Liberals as his reason. He claimed that the government’s purchase of the Kinder Morgan oil pipeline was the last straw.

Alex Tyrrell, leader of the Green Party of Quebec, has also expressed interest in May’s former job.

Tyrrell wants to see the party transformed into an electoral organization that espouses ecosocialism, a train of thought that holds that the protection of the environment is incompatible with capitalism.

When asked how ecosocialism is relevant to the future of the Green Party, Manly said that although leaders can bring forward certain ideas, the party members “still have the final say on what the policies of the party are”.

“The Green Party is a big tent, so there are people who like the idea of ecosocialism,” Manly said. “I don’t think we’re an ecosocialist party. We don’t follow that kind of ideology.”

According to Manly, the party believes in “multiple” approaches in dealing with environmental issues.

“Private enterprise has a role to play,” Manly said.

Another name that is widely mentioned as a likely contender for Green leader is independent politician Jody Wilson-Raybould.

May has previously said that she has offered to step down if either Wilson-Raybould or Jane Philpott is willing to take on the job.

Wilson-Raybould and Philpott were ousted from the Liberal Party following the controversy over the alleged interference by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the criminal prosecution of Quebec engineering giant SNC-Lavalin.

Following his win in the May 2019 by-election, Manly said that he’d “love to see” Wilson-Raybould and Philpott run as Green candidates.

Wilson-Raybould won a second term as Vancouver Granville MP in the October 2019 election as an independent. Philpott also ran as an independent but lost her seat in Markham-Stouffville.

Manly has other things on his mind.

“We have the largest homelessness per capita in Canada,” Manly said about his Vancouver Island riding.

Another issue that he wants to work on is improving the local health-care system, noting that the Nanaimo Regional General Hospital is “overstretched”.

Then there’s climate change manifesting its effects in Manly’s riding “with forests dying and with the rivers at really low levels”.

It’s no wonder that Manly doesn’t imagine himself hopping into a leadership race.

“I’m a little averse to it,” he said.