Victoria environmental lawyer sweeps to NDP nomination

Party members vote Murray Rankin in as the potential successor to retired MP Denise Savoie

New to political campaigning, Murray Rankin said he’s been drinking too much coffee and losing weight cycling around Victoria’s neighbourhoods.

While he wasn’t running for office as such, Rankin took the race for the NDP’s nomination in the Victoria federal byelection seriously.

“I took nothing for granted – I was running scared the whole election,” he said Monday, a day after winning a first-ballot vote amongst NDP members.

All that “good old-fashioned” door knocking paid off, helping Rankin earn 352 votes at the nomination meeting at the University of Victoria. His total was well ahead of runner-up Elizabeth Cull (96 votes), Charley Beresford (51) and Ben Isitt (36).

The new candidate said Stephen Harper’s leadership will be the main issue in the upcoming campaign.

“People feel the increasing income inequality in our society,” Rankin said.

Also last weekend, the Liberal Party named lone nominee Paul Summerville its candidate by acclamation.

Speaking to supporters at St. Matthias Anglican Church Hall on Saturday, Summerville targeted a secondary sewage treatment facility as a plant “we don’t need and don’t want.”

Only the Liberal Party is against the project, he said. In his acceptance speech, he said the project will “vacuum up all the federal and provincial infrastructure dollars that could be used for public investment like storm sewers and 21st century public transit.”

Summerville fingered the Harper Government for imposing sewage treatment.

But Rankin, an environmental lawyer who has done work with the provincial NDP, pointed to the B.C. Liberal Party’s role in mandating the project.

“Do people forget that?” he asked.

While the NDP do not oppose sewage treatment, Rankin said there are many pertinent issues facing Victoria voters, such as the recently approved luxury yacht marina in the Songhees, and homelessness.

“Those who would try to turn this into a single-issue byelection, I think, really underestimate the sophistication of our electorate.”

The date for the byelection has not been set. It was triggered by the resignation of MP Denise Savoie due to health reasons.

Two weeks ago, the Green Party nominated Donald Galloway as its candidate in the race.

Late to the game is the Conservative party. The Victoria Conservative Association is gathering tonight (Oct. 15) to confirm potential candidates and set a date for its nomination meeting.

Former Victoria candidate Patrick Hunt was rumoured to be running, but has since confirmed he will not seek the nomination.

rholmen@vicnews.com