Facilitate and collaborate, those are the keys to working with the new Liberal federal government says returning NDP MP Murray Rankin.
“I’m trying to be positive. I’m anxious to give the new government a chance to succeed,” Rankin said in a phone call from Ottawa. “I want to enable parliament to turn the corner and I know they share the desire to repair the damage Harper has done … there’s lots of work to do and I want to be a person who assists on that.”
Rankin re-claimed his seat Oct. 19 with 30,147 votes, well ahead of Green contender Jo-Ann Roberts’ 23,577 votes.
“There were many things the Liberals promised during the election that we will be anxious to hold them to,” Rankin said. “We don’t have to be disagreeable. We don’t have to be taking the tone we took with Mr. Harper … this is a different group so one wants to make sure we give them a chance.”
His job as he sees it is twofold: to make sure Victoria is looked after, particularly in the absence of Liberal members (the Island is predominantly NDP with the exception of Green MP Elizabeth May in Saanich-Gulf Islands), and to hold them accountable for promises made.
“One of the things the Liberals have committed to is infrastructure,” Rankin said. “There are a number of important infrastructure projects in Victoria.”
Among those, a priority to fund the Belleville Street terminal upgrades (the province and two local companies announced a $17.4-million investment in the spring) as well as transit, housing for homeless and recommitment for sewage treatment funds already promised.
“I want to make sure there’s no backtracking on funds earmarked for cleaning up the Rock Bay area,” he said.
The remediation of 17 acres of contaminated land and seabed on Victoria’s Upper Harbour is expected to finish this winter.
“At the regional level I want a renewed commitment to the Kitsilano Coast Guard station and those stations on the Island,” Rankin said.
Provincially there’s the widely publicized promise to end the Northern Gateway pipeline project.
“It’s environmental lunacy and (Trudeau) agrees with us, so let’s make sure the steps (to end it) are put in place immediately,” Rankin said.
Beyond B.C., Rankin plans to watch dealings with Kinder Morgan closely as well as the promised alterations to Bill C-51.
“(That) is a passion of mine,” Rankin said. “They are going to be reforming that law … making some significant changes. I think I have a lot to contribute to that.”
His only immediate concern is the lack of substance in the Liberal platform on climate change.
“Even there I want to assist. I understand environmental law and I think I have a clear understanding of how we need to proceed.”
Rankin earned his seat in a 2012 by-election to replace Denise Savoie who resigned for health reasons. In that election he held held a 1,200-vote lead over the Green Party candidate. “I’ll be watching to make sure our share as Vancouver Island is looked after,” Rankin said. “I’m confident these people can be taken at their word as they’re interested in good governance.”