10/16/2014 04:29 EDT | Updated 12/16/2014 05:59 EST

James Beddome, Ex-Manitoba Green Leader, Wants Old Job Back

WINNIPEG - It's not every day that politicians run to replace themselves, but that's exactly what James Beddome of the Green Party of Manitoba is doing.

Beddome resigned as party leader last November to devote more time to starting a career as a Winnipeg lawyer. The party organized a leadership convention for next month to choose a successor — and Beddome has thrown his hat in the ring.

"I decided to step aside (last year) because I felt I wasn't able to meet the commitments I wanted to," Beddome, 31, said Thursday.

"I now am an associate, so I have a little bit more flexibility, in theory, over my work flow."

The only other contestant to file before nominations closed this week is Kate Storey, a 56-year-old organic farmer from western Manitoba. She has run under the Green banner in several federal and provincial elections. Last January, she captured five per cent of the vote in a provincial byelection in the Arthur-Virden constituency.

"I'm more of an entrepreneur," Storey said when asked to compare herself to Beddome.

"I would say he's probably young and full of dreams, and I think I'm a little more down to earth."

The Greens have traditionally attracted little attention in Manitoba, but they made a splash under Beddome in 2011, when he secured a spot on a televised debate alongside the leaders of the three main parties. Then 27, Beddome was generally seen as having held his own against experienced politicians twice his age.

He finished second in the Wolseley constituency with 19 per cent of the vote, but, provincewide, his party captured 2.5 per cent and remained without a seat in the legislature.

Both Beddome and Storey express optimism that the party is catching on across Canada. The New Brunswick Greens won their first legislature seat in September. The Green Party of British Columbia captured a seat last year. And, federally, the Greens hold two seats in the House of Commons.

"I do see a lot of opportunity in this upcoming (Manitoba) election," Beddome said.

The two candidates also agree on an issue that stirred up controversy in 2012 — a possible alliance with the Manitoba Liberals, who were reduced to one legislature seat the previous year. Then-Liberal leader Jon Gerrard floated the idea of teaming with the Greens, and some Liberal members said there were informal negotiations being held before the idea was quashed.

Beddome said he's open to working on individual issues with any other party, but any formal alliance or merger was never on the table. He also said he would be against the idea if it comes up again.

"I think the reason we exist as a separate, individual party is because there's a need for another party in Manitoba. There's a need for a party that's going to actually talk about bold visions and new ideas."

Storey also said any formal alliance is a non-starter.

"I can see no room for co-operation with the Liberals. We've seen the Liberals try to come across as green, but then their policies and their actions are not green."

The Green party's leadership convention, at which every member will get a vote, is slated for Nov. 15.


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