Murray Rankin, the newly elected New Democrat MP for Victoria, is off to Ottawa and he is working with government ministers and public service officials on post-secondary funding and environmental regulations.
Rankin says he wants to create a series of initiatives with the NDP. These include addressing student debt and education funding, low income housing, the construction of a new sewage treatment plant in the Capital Regional District (CRD), the regulation of west coast pipelines, and working with people outside of the House of Commons on issues raised in Parliament. Rankin believes he can accomplish much outside of the House of Commons.
“In a minority [government] it’s more possible to make deals with the opposing request. Unlike in the provincial system, [in the federal system] there are standing committees, and a lot can be done informally and you can make deals.”
Rankin says that when the cameras are off there are people willing to work across the aisle in Parliament. “There is also quite a lot of cooperation [in Ottawa], and even though I haven’t been sworn in, I have already meet with two cabinet ministers and the people who matter in the appropriate government departments [to discuss these issues]. There is a roundabout way to meet and make things happen. In the BC [legislative assembly] it is much harder to do that, as they don’t use the committee system as the federal government does.”
Rankin is working with B.C. NDP leader Adrian Dix on environmental issues, advising him on what B.C. could do under constitutional law to block construction of the Enbridge pipeline. During the by-election Rankin championed the construction of a new sewage treatment plant for the CRD.
Rankin says Victoria is the only city north of San Diego without a sewage treatment plant. In 2007, the B.C. government ordered the CRD to develop a land-based sewage treatment plan; and the Provincial and Federal Governments have committed funding for the project.
“The Liberal and the Conservative candidates said we should push it off, so that later generations have to pay for it, and the Green Party said put it off until we have better technology. I say, let’s not put it off. We have the money. The cost was going to be split three ways between the federal, provincial, and local governments,” says Rankin. “It is up to the [CRD] to determine how they are going to pay for [their share].”
On post-secondary education funding, Rankin is looking forward to working with the NDP’s No Student Left Behind program. “[NDP] leader, Thomas Mulcair, has said, ‘Everything is on the table in how best to get students out of debt.’ What the NDP wants is to work with the provincial governments to ensure access to education for students of all income levels. We believe education increases wealth and is an intrinsic human and social right for every Canadian, young and old.”
Rankin took his oath of office Dec. 10, before the start of Parliament’s second session on January 30, 2013.