Victoria MP Murray Rankin

Victoria MP Murray Rankin

The Rankin File: six months into the job for Victoria’s MP

A conversation with Victoria’s rookie Member of Parliament

Since joining the House of Commons last December, Victoria MP Murray Rankin has become one of the NDP’s go-to critics, drawing on decades of legal expertise in areas ranging from aboriginal treaty negotiations and environment protection to national security. The News sat down with Rankin to find out what he’s learned in his first six months representing the people of Victoria, Oak Bay and a little of Saanich.

Q. Your current portfolio (national revenue critic) isn’t exactly in your areas of expertise. What have you been able to accomplish in that role?

“I’m on the most senior committee in Ottawa, the finance committee. Most people think it’s just boring tax stuff, but then we’ve had this tax haven issue. And the harassment of environmental organizations by this government to see if they’re abusing their charitable status, I never thought that would come about. Thirdly, the service cuts that the (Canada Revenue Agency) is making are affecting seniors in this community. I’m advocating for them. And lastly, I’m trying to figure out how to harness the Income Tax Act to provide incentives to go to a lower carbon economy.”

Q. What have you learned about the business of Ottawa since becoming an MP?

“There was a time when I was very critical of the parliamentary system. I was a believer in the U.S. checks and balances system. I don’t believe that at all anymore. Look at the (U.S.) Senate that can hold up the President with filibusters … it’s just gridlock. And I never anticipated that, frankly, in my respect for the American system. You kind of take Parliament for granted. I’m just really excited about the potential of Parliament.”

Q. Do you have any disappointments about your experiences so far?

“I wish it wasn’t such a hyper-partisan environment. Even at the committee level, there’s still a friendliness and an ability to work together, but others tell me it’s much less of a co-operative place because the Conservatives have put their parliamentary secretaries for each of their departments at the relevant committees. Well, that makes it very hard for us to come up with independent recommendations. And when we do, they invariably vote them down, even when they tell you in candour it’s a good idea but the Prime Minister’s Office won’t let them support it. I’m disappointed in that. I wish we could flex the muscles of committees more.”

Q. Why haven’t you followed Saanich-Gulf Island MP Elizabeth May’s lead and disclosed your expenses?

“Well first of all, my expenses as a new MP, having only been sworn in on Dec. 8, haven’t yet been approved by the House of Commons. I wrote the Freedom of Information law here in B.C. and I’ve done work for the federal privacy commissioner. I want to do this, but we also want structural change. Then people can compare apples to apples and see who’s spending what. Hopefully we can do that this fall.”

Rock Bay cleanup proceeding under MP’s watchful eye

One of Murray Rankin’s first tasks as Victoria MP was to make sure Transport Canada was still planning to clean up the contaminated soil in Rock Bay. Coal and gas production took place on the shoreline from the 1860s to the 1950s, leaving highly toxic sediment in the soil and seabed below.

Two phases of cleanup have already taken place, but the final phase was delayed due to higher than expected contamination levels, said Sau Sau Liu, Transport Canada spokeswoman.

“We are taking more time to study and plan the remaining cleanup,” she said.

Rankin said he’s been assured by Transport Minister Denis Lebel that funding for the project is in place. “Rock Bay could be a real gem. Contaminated sites can be very tricky and time-consuming, but thank goodness the money is there to do it,” Rankin said.

Phase 3 of the cleanup should be complete by the end of 2016, Liu said.

– Daniel Palmer

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

This male Dungeness can safely be harvested after passing muster. An official with Fisheries and Oceans Canada says it is not clear how well locals on the Saanich Peninsula are complying with crabbing regulations, but her comments suggest that any problems might be of a minor nature. (Department of Fisheries and Oceans/Submitted)
Sidney and Sooke record 57 crabbing violations in 2020

While recreational crab fishery has ‘compliance issues,’ no evidence of ‘large scale poaching’

Police seek information after a pedestrian was hit in a crosswalk at the intersection of Goldstream Avenue and Veterans Memorial Parkway on March 3.(Google Maps)
Witnesses sought in Langford pedestrian hit and run

Suspect is older man driving four-door, gold sedan

The University of Victoria has said some of its students were impacted by an off-campus exposure to COVID-19 last weekend. (Black Press Media file photo)
University of Victoria students impacted by off-campus COVID-19 exposure

UVic has not specified where the exposure occurred

Const. Mat Jones of the CRD Integrated Road Safety Unit joined a team of Saanich police officers and ICBC representatives cracking down on distracted driving at the McKenzie/Quadra intersection in Saanich on March 3. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
‘Leave the phone alone’: 40 distracted driving tickets issued in two hours at Saanich intersection

Saanich police, CRD Integrated Road Safety Unit crackdown on drivers’ cell-phone use

Victoria police are investigating after a person broke into and stole a vehicle from a Douglas Street car dealership on the morning of March 3. (Courtesy of Victoria Police Department)
Suspect sought after vehicle swiped from Victoria dealership

Suspect broke into Douglas Street dealership shortly before 5 a.m.

Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Dr. Bonnie Henry pauses for a moment as she gives her daily media briefing regarding COVID-19 for British Columbia in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
7 additional deaths and 542 new COVID-19 cases in B.C.

Provincial health officials reported 18 new COVID-19 cases linked to variants of concern

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of March 2

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: How’s your butter?

Recent reports have some Canadians giving a second look to one of… Continue reading

Chief Justice Christopher Hinkson (Office of the Chief Justice)
Judge questions whether B.C.’s top doctor appreciated right to religious freedom

Lawyer for province says Dr. Henry has outlined the reasons for her orders publicly

A sample of guns seized at the Pacific Highway border crossing from the U.S. into B.C. in 2014. Guns smuggled from the U.S. are used in criminal activity, often associated with drug gangs. (Canada Border Service Agency)
B.C. moves to seize vehicles transporting illegal firearms

Bill bans sale of imitation or BB guns to young people

The City of Duncan will implement a new pilot project targeting vandalism this spring. (File photo)
Graffiti trouble? Duncan will give you the brush and the paint to remove it

Initiative based on a successful project to protect Port Alberni from unwanted spray paint

BC Housing minister David Eby is concerned that Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter will result in a “tent city” similar to this one in Everett, Wa. (Olivia Vanni / Black Press file)
‘Disappointed and baffled’ B.C. housing minister warns of tent city in Penticton

Penticton council’s decision to close a local homeless shelter could create tent city, says David Eby

The first of Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s long-range maritime patrol aircraft—the Dash-8—becomes operational. (Photo supplied by PAL Aerospace)
Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s new De Havilland Dash-8-100 long-range surveillance air craft is capable of staying aloft for eight to 10 hours for a variety of missions up and down the B.C. coast. (Photo supplied by PAL Aerospace)
New plane will double DFO’s surveillance capacity in B.C.

The Dash-8 will fly out of Campbell River for enforcement, conservation missions

A recently published study out of UBC has found a link between life satisfaction levels and overall health. (Pixabay)
Satisfied with life? It’s likely you’re healthier for it: UBC study

UBC psychologists have found those more satisfied with their life have a 26% reduced risk of dying

Most Read