Murray Rankin functions at a pace most people would find exhausting, but he likes it that way.
For the past year, the Victoria MP has clocked near-weekly flights between Ottawa and his constituency for everything from early morning committee meetings to Question Period to party fundraisers.
“I’ve learned to live with permanent jet lag,” he said between a packed-house pension forum with NDP leader Tom Mulcair in Cook Street Village and a stop at the Youth Addressing Local Poverty conference at St. Michaels University school last Friday.
Rankin, who won a nail-biting federal election in November 2012, has risen quickly in the NDP caucus thanks to legal expertise and an encyclopedic knowledge of current affairs. He’s opposition critic for national revenue and pensions, a member of the federal finance committee and an architect of the NDP’s targeted querying that’s helped breathe new life into Question Period.
“One of the great keys to success is preparation,” he said. “If finance committee meets at 9 a.m. in Ottawa, I get up at the equivalent of 4 a.m. (PST). But you have to be sharp and prepare.”
Locally, Rankin’s been surprised by the prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder suffered by many military officers as he continues work done by former Victoria MP Denise Savoie to improve veteran assistance.
“The whole issue is something i didn’t know much about before taking this job. The government is fighting people who are hoping to get pension benefits, giving them lump sum payments rather than ongoing benefits,” he said.
Over the next few months, Rankin joins Mulcair for a cross-country pensions tour to tout plans to overhaul the Canada Pension Plan, a “core plank” of the NDP’s 2015 election campaign.
“This isn’t the Canada I grew up in,” Rankin said. “We’re leaving a massive economic, environmental and social debt on the backs of the next generation. But we’re going to change that.”
While Rankin wouldn’t confirm whether the B.C. NDP have approached him as a leadership candidate (he was considered a prime candidate before Carole James assumed the role in 2003), he has no plans to leave federal office in the foreseeable future.
“I was just elected a year ago. I’m not going anywhere,” he said. “I’m thrilled with how well we’re doing and proud to be a part of such a dynamic caucus.”