Rookie Victoria councillor Laurel Collins seeks federal NDP nomination

Rookie Victoria Coun. Laurel Collins has announced her intention to seek the NDP nomination to represent Victoria in this fall’s federal election.

Collins, 34, is looking to succeed MP Murray Rankin, who has announced he is retiring.

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Collins said she’s planning a run at federal office for the same reasons she ran for civic office: “to tackle the housing crisis and the urgent climate crisis.”

But she conceded some people might be surprised at the prospect of her leaving civic office after such a short period.

“It’s been a really difficult decision for me. I’m sure that there will be some people who are taken aback, but I have been overwhelmed and surprised at the outpour of support from constituents, from supporters, from colleagues, from strangers. It’s been amazing,” she said.

Collins was elected to her first term as a Victoria councillor last fall as part of the three-person Together Victoria slate and will have been in public office for just shy of a year by the next federal election, set for October.

If she wins the nomination, she plans to continue to serve until the writ is dropped, then take unpaid leave from council to campaign.

An instructor in social justice studies and social inequality at the University of Victoria, Collins points to the recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report on the climate crisis as a key factor in her decision to jump into federal politics.

She said Canada needs to make substantial investments in manufacturing jobs and affordable and energy-efficient housing, with the goal of rapidly reducing greenhouse-gas emissions.

“One of the reasons I want to do this is because it’s really clear to me that as a municipality, we need a government that’s willing to make the investments in housing and that will actually come to the table and take real, urgent, unprecedented action on climate leadership.

“I would be so excited to be in that federal role and to work in collaboration with the council.”

Mayor Lisa Helps wished Collins well, saying the councillor has proven herself in her short time in elected office.

“She’s smart. She’s capable. She’s competent. So I think if she wants to go for it, she certainly has got the skills,” said Helps, adding she has no plans to endorse any candidate or get involved in the federal election. “I never do in any election. But I think if this is something she wants to do, I think she’s a skilled person.”

Rankin, 69, was first elected in 2012 and has served as the NDP justice critic. Last year, he was nominated by his peers as the hardest-working parliamentarian.

The NDP has not scheduled a Victoria nomination meeting.

bcleverley@timescolonist.com

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