The NDP justice critic has been busy probing the SNC-Lavalin affair, but plans to step down in October
VICTORIA — Victoria MP Murray Rankin took a break Thursday from one of his busiest weeks ever in Ottawa to announce he will not run in this year’s federal election.
The NDP justice critic, who has played a key role in probing the SNC-Lavalin affair, said there’s never a right time to make such a decision.
“Obviously, I wasn’t taking into account in my calculation the serious constitutional crisis that we have right on us,” he said in a telephone interview. “But I will continue to do that (work) until I’m no longer an MP in October.”
Rankin, who was first elected in 2012, said he decided to announce his intentions now to allow for a successor to get nominated and build a profile in the community.
He noted, too, that he’s leaving behind a strong electoral-district association with money in the bank and a team of volunteers.
“So I think I can honestly look myself in the mirror and say that I’m leaving this ship in good shape,” he said.
Finally, he added that the NDP has a bit of “spring in our step” now with new leader Jagmeet Singh winning his seat and a scandal threatening the Liberal government.
“It seemed like it was a good time for me to get on with the rest of my life,” he said.
Rankin, who last year was nominated by his peers for the title of hardest-working parliamentarian, stressed, however, that he has no plans to take things easy.
“I want to let people in Victoria know that I take very seriously representing them,” he said. “I have in the past and that’s not going to change as I step away from the election.
“In an ironic way, I hope I can work harder on some of the issues now because I won’t be involved in knocking on thousands of doors and doing all-candidates meetings.”
Among other things, Rankin said he’ll keep pushing the federal government for money to expand the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. “The province stepped up, the private sector stepped up, and I’m trying desperately hard to get the federal government to contribute.”
In the years ahead, Rankin plans to devote his time to reconciliation efforts with First Nations. “Aside from climate change, I think reconciliation is one of the key challenges of our time.”
A lawyer, who specialized in environmental and aboriginal rights law before becoming an MP, Rankin was recently appointed by the B.C. government as its representative in a reconciliation process with the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.
“I think it’s an important assignment,” he said. “I’ll be working on behalf of the provincial government. I’m not getting paid for this. I’m simply going to do this because I’m committed to doing it.”
Among the highlights of his career, Rankin cited his role advising government on the legalization of medical assistance in dying and sitting on Parliament’s new intelligence and national security oversight committee. He also pointed to his role opposing the Enbridge pipeline.
At an age when many people retire and hit the golf course, Rankin, 69, said he has no plans to slow down.
“From binners to billionaires, I have met people all across our community, in all walks of life,” he said.
“This job makes you, requires you, to get to know your community like no other position. It’s just a remarkable community. So you know what? I want to keep growing from that, not simply going and retiring to the golf course. That’s not me.”
Rankin joins a growing list of NDP MPs who have announced they are not going to be running again in October’s election.
The list includes Alberta MP Linda Duncan, Ontario MPs Irene Mathyssen and David Christopherson, Quebec’s Helene Laverdiere, Romeo Saganash, Marjolaine Boutin-Sweet and Anne Minh-Thu Quach and B.C.’s Fin Donnelly.
Former MPs Kennedy Stewart and Sheila Malcolmson also left their jobs. Stewart is now Vancouver’s mayor and Malcolmson is a provincial politician in B.C.
Former Quebec MP and leader Tom Mulcair also quit politics to work as a visiting professor at Université de Montreal.
— With a file from The Canadian Press
Read more Island news at timescolonist.com