Manly and May say Greens are gathering the vote - not splitting it

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Tuesday, February 17 2015

Paul Manly, Green Party of Canada, Candidate for Nanaimo-Ladysmith answers a question during a town hall held this past Friday night at a packed Gabriola Island Community Hall. Green Party Leader Elizabeth May (seated at table) was also in attendance and answered islanders’ questions with Manly. Derek Kilbourn photo

The Gabriola Community Hall was packed to the maximum this past Friday night, as Green Party of Canada Leader Elizabeth May and Nanaimo-Ladysmith Candidate Paul Manly hosted a Town Hall for Gabriolans.

During the question period, they were asked to comment on the fact that the newly-created riding will have multiple strong candidates to choose from, with Gabriola in particular split between Manly running for the Green Party and Sheila Malcolmson, ex-Island Trustee, running for the NDP.

The question was couched by asking if voters won’t split the non-Conservative vote between the NDP and Greens, and end up seeing a Conservative MP voted in to office.

Note: Mark MacDonald of Nanaimo is the Conservative candidate in the riding.

Manly responded by saying, “First of all, what we’re going to do is gather the vote.”

He explained that during the last election in 2011, 36.5 per cent of the people between Lantzville and Ladysmith - the boundaries of the new riding - did not vote.

“More people didn’t bother to vote than voted for the NDP or Conservatives. Over 60 per cent of those people were young people.

“I’ve talked to a number of people who say they’re not interested in politics or voting. After five minutes with me, they start signing up to volunteer because they realize how important it is.”

Manly added, “The Greens are the second choice for everyone. Conservatives? Their second choice is Green. NDP? Second choice is Green. Liberals? Second choice is green.

“I’ve talked to a lot of Conservatives who are fed up; they are not going to vote for [Prime Minister Stephen] Harper, and they aren’t going to swing to NDP. Liberal supporters, they know they’re going to have a hard time winning in this riding - 36.5 per cent, that’s who didn’t vote. 

“People are going to swing their votes; they are going to go Green. People see that Green is a forward vision, not a right-left paradigm. We need to move forward together, that’s what we’re planning to do together.”

Elizabeth May followed Manly, saying when she ran in the Saanich-Gulf Islands riding in 2011, she heard the message from many people that she would cause the vote to be split and the incumbent Conservative Member of Parliament Gary Lunn would get back in.

“Obviously I got elected. I had a 7,000 vote margin between me and Gary Lunn, a cabinet minister in what everyone thought was a Conservative riding.

“That was because of what Paul described - a grassroots program. It was also about increasing voter turnout.

“Saanich-Gulf Islands had a turnout just shy of 75 per cent turnout, the highest in BC.”

Manly cited similar numbers being seen when Green Party members won in provincial elections in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia.

Manly and May board GERTIE’s Blanche to get from the Community Hall to the ferry. Derek Kilbourn photo.

“Paul is not just whistling a happy tune about gathering the vote. Increasing voters is what will stop the Conservatives. 

“In the last election, the largest block of voters were the 40 per cent of people who stayed home. 

“Only 24 per cent of Canadians put an X next to a Conservative candidate’s name.

“Forty per cent was the biggest block. They could have formed a majority party and called it the “We Stayed Home Party.””

Manly and May had also heard comments on Friday night that people are unhappy with seeing how parliamentarians behave during question period.

May said, “It is orchestrated abuse. They are told by their party leadership when to heckle.

“I’ve been heckled into silence by the Conservative caucus and by the NDP when all I’m trying to do is raise issues.

“Why is that? 

“I think it is a form of voter suppression. 

“Making people disgusted, or terrified, that if they vote for what they want they are voting for Harper.”