Murray Rankin meet and greet last night at the Canoe Club. I am not a New Democrat but decided to show up anyway because I do not know who I will vote for in the by-election and the best way for me to decide is meet as many of the potential candidates in person.
About 60 people showed up last night to meet Murray Rankin and hear him talk. He was clearly talking to an NDP crowd and hitting the issues and points that matter for them which is a less than ideal world to understand who he is as a person.
I recognized a few people in the crowd, though there were people I had expected to see there that were not there. This is UBCM week in Victoria so I had expected to see some councilors and mayors for up island and the lower mainland but they were not there. I had also expected to see MLAs Rob Fleming, Lana Popham and Maurine Karagianis there. I had expected one of the MLAs to introduce him. Their absence makes me wonder about the strength of his campaign.
I did talk with Victoria's own Über-Churchill fan Chris Gainor who I have run into at events and things over the last couple of decades. Chris is one of the people backing Murray Rankin. He was sharing a table with former NDP MP Dick Proctor and his wife both of whom were there to decide who they would back. I think it was a shame that Dick was not re-elected as an MP in 2004 because he seemed to understand the role of an MP and worked hard at it.
What I take from Murray Rankin talking is that the environment and societal equality are the issues that drive him. When he moved off of these issues he talked well but the passion was not there, or in the case of foreign policy there was no depth in what he said. There was also a lot of Harper bashing, which is par for the course in a nomination campaign because you can be negative about the "enemy" but should not be so about your own people you are competing against. I personally find the Harper bashing boring and really only filler in a talk.
In politics so many people are convinced that negative campaigning works to win elections but why then is this not used in nomination campaigns? In the nomination you are in an internal partisan race with people from your party so the idea of negative campaigning should work but it is not used. The reason it is not used, which is the same reason it is not generally used in product advertising, is that it really does not work to anyone's benefit. If it does help in the short term there is a serious harm in the medium and long term that is much worse.
Murray Rankin addressed why he was the best choice for the NDP over Elizabeth Cull or Charley Beresford which was interesting to hear. His approach was to focus on a couple of things he could do better than the others and not what was wrong with Cull or Beresford. He pointed out that he speaks fluent French and this is very relevant in a caucus where the majority of members speak French as a first language. He has also has worked in Ottawa and is on the forefront of the Northern Gateway issue.
If the goal is to have someone going to Ottawa and be an effective member of the NDP caucus, by far I think Murray Rankin is that person. My ultimate decision will be made based on which person I think will make the best MP in Ottawa.