Murray Rankin, here campaigning during the provincial election Oct. 23, is the new NDP MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head. (Tony Sprackett Photo)

Murray Rankin, here campaigning during the provincial election Oct. 23, is the new NDP MLA for Oak Bay-Gordon Head. (Tony Sprackett Photo)

New Oak Bay-Gordon Head MLA Murray Rankin says he will use his federal connections

Rankin said being part of NDP majority government gives him a strong voice

New Democrat Murrary Rankin says he has a lot to learn about provincial policies as the new Member of the Legislative Assembly for Oak Bay-Gordon Head, but has also signalled that he will use his previous federal experience.

“I do want to reach out to federal friends and colleagues because that’s how you get things done in Canada,” he said, adding that the previous NDP minority government has developed a record of collaboration with the federal government. “So this is good time to work in a government with Premier Horgan, who has obviously a lot of respect in Ottawa and if I can add to that team I would be delighted to do so.”

Rankin made these comments in an interview with Black Press Sunday after being declared the winner in the riding, having won the riding comfortably with 6,834 votes, ahead of Green Nicole Duncan (4,046), BC Liberal Roxanne Helme (3,400) and Communist Party of BC’s Florian Castle (78).

“It’s really an honour to represent a riding that has been the only one in British Columbia that has been represented all parties — the Conservatives, B.C. Liberals, the B.C. Greens and the NDP, and even before Social Credit,” he said. “It’s really quite a unique riding. It is also a riding that has more engaged people.”

Rankin replaces Andrew Weaver, the former leader of the BC Green Party, who sat as an independent when the Legislative Assembly dissolved.

NDP’s Rankin declared winner in Oak Bay-Gordon Head

Rankin said he has “big shoes to fill” in following Weaver, with whom he will continue to consult because he and Weaver share similar concerns about climate change and the environment.

“He is a global leader on climate change and he is right here in our riding and will I pick his brains — you bet!”

Rankin will be familiar with many parts of his new provincial riding with much of it overlapping with the federal riding of Victoria, which he represented for nearly seven years as MP for the federal New Democrats, rising to the position of House leader.

In other words, Rankin knows whom to call around parliamentary and ministerial offices, as well as the federal bureaucracy, knowledge that he intends to use. But Rankin, however, stressed that he has not had discussion with Horgan about serving in cabinet. “Mr. Horgan will make his decision to what role I play, but being part of a strong NDP caucus in a majority government will give me a strong voice and I intend to use it.”

Rankin ran as one of the New Democratic star candidates following a brief retirement of elected politics, but he insists that there was nothing inevitable about his victory.

He said the New Democratic candidate had finished third in 2017, well behind Weaver. “So I had a long way to go,” he said.

Voters in the riding had also not elected a New Democratic candidate since the late 1980s, early 1990s, when Elizabeth Cull first won a by-election in 1989, then a general election in 1991, he said.

“So it has been 29 years since voters put an X beside a successful NDP candidate,” he said. “So it’s a whole generation that has passed without being represented in this riding by NDP.”

Looking at issues, Rankin said the pandemic remains an “enormous challenge” and he plans to focus its efforts on it as well as other health related issues such as senior long-term care, home-care, and climate change.

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wolfgang.depner@peninsulanewsreview.com