Murray Rankin is getting back into politics and hopes to run for the NDP in Oak Bay-Gordon Head in the next provincial election.
The former Victoria MP chose not to run federally for the NDP last year and returned to practising law.
But he said in an interview Wednesday that he missed politics and was compelled to return to public life to confront the many challenges facing the province due to the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change.
“The stakes are so high,” he said. “I truly feel that there’s a crisis that our community hasn’t really come to grips with yet — both at the economic and environmental level.
“I feel really strongly about the challenges that we’re facing in this community right now and I just felt maybe I could make a difference.”
The announcement fueled speculation that Premier John Horgan is poised to call a provincial election for this fall. But Rankin said he’s hearing the same rumours as everyone else and has no inside information on the government’s plans.
“If the government were to call an election soon, I have to be ready,” he said. “I have to seek the nomination and do all of those things. So the time seemed right.”
Rankin, 70, will first have to defeat former Oak Bay councillor Michelle Kirby to become the NDP candidate in Oak Bay-Gordon Head, which is represented by former B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver, now sitting as an Independent MLA.
The constituency has flipped between the Liberals, NDP, Greens and Social Credit over the years.
But Rankin believes he stands a good shot of being the first NDP MLA for the riding since Elizabeth Cull held the seat from 1989 to 1996.
“I’ve had a lot of people, frankly, at all levels that have said that they think I could win in that riding,” he said.
“It’ll be a challenging race, but I think it’s worth trying. I live in Oak Bay-Gordon Head. I’ve raised my kids in the riding and it seems to me I’m a known commodity, having been the member of Parliament. And I hope people think that I’m a person who could represent them successfully in the legislature.”
Dan Reeve, a political science instructor at Camosun College, said Rankin would have to be considered a frontrunner, given his experience and profile in the community.
“He won handily when he was MP,” he said. “He’s a proven entity. I imagine he’s potentially in cabinet if they should form government.
“If the NDP has a chance in that riding — and obviously he thinks they do — he’s the kind of candidate that would have a shot.”
Reeve said Rankin’s switch from federal to provincial politics isn’t surprising, given the grueling schedule kept by MPs from B.C. travelling back and forth to Ottawa.