New Democratic Party candidate Alistair MacGregor is all smiles at his campaign headquarters in Duncan. MacGregor was declared winner of the Cowichan - Malahat - Langford riding in the Oct. 19 federal election and is the NDP’s seniors critic and deputy critic for culture and heritage.

REPRESENTING YOU: Getting to know MP Alistair MacGregor

Former case worker takes on Cowichan-Malahat-Langford riding

Alistair MacGregor is the proud owner of a riding spanning more than 4,000 square kilometres.

The long-time case worker for former Nanaimo-Cowichan MP Jean Crowder said regardless of geography, he is ready to put in the hours, even if many of them are on the highway.

“It’ll be a bit of a challenge for my area, running all the way from Chemainus in the north to Langford in the south, but all of the major communities in the riding are connected really well with just one highway,” MacGregor said. “I’m prepared to do the same thing and I may log a lot of hours on the Malahat, but I am prepared to do that to serve the constituents in each area as best as I can.”

His team has already opened an office in Duncan, occupying the same office and furniture Crowder used and is on the hunt for another one in Langford.

Time spent door knocking in the West Shore community allowed MacGregor, a long-time Cowichan resident, to learn more about the municipalities of Langford and Highlands, which he now represents in Ottawa.

He also counted Esquimalt-Saanich-Sooke MP Randall Garrison and provincial NDP leader John Horgan as “key allies” that would go a long ways in helping him learn the area and serve the constituents on the southern-most tip of his constituency.

“Almost every neighbourhood I visited (had) a really high population of  young families that have really been chased out of the housing market in Victoria and have come to Langford,” MacGregor said. “When I was going around the doorsteps talking about childcare or any family-friendly affordability issues that was an important thing.”

MacGregor applauded the work of Langford council for their housing affordability programs including one that sees every tenth unit priced below market value, and hoped federal opportunities might help provide more affordable housing for young families. Another hot topic he hoped to tackle was transportation for commuters working downtown.

“Everyone who worked in Victoria had a complaint about the absolutely slow crawl to getting to work and getting home in afternoon it would be great to see if we can make any progress in the future with the E&N  railway,” MacGregor continued. “Seeing if the Langford to Victoria route can be up and running with a reliable passenger rails service that actually gets people to work on time and works with their schedules.

The NDP’s new seniors critic, and deputy critic for culture and heritage said he sees Canada’s aging population as one of his priorities, tackling issues affecting the age group including improved access to health care, expanded home care, and looking at security and affordability.

He also planned to consult with former NDP seniors critic Irene Mathyssen, planning to continue the strong work of an “exciting” portfolio.

“This is my first time being elected. I acknowledge I am a pretty young member of the caucus … I am going to spend the first year listening and learning a lot from my more experienced colleagues really getting a feel for the place in Ottawa and doing the best I can working for this portfolio,” he said. “I think it is a great fit for me because we have a fairly high population of folks in the riding as a whole. I think I can do some great work on their behalf.”

Despite the NDP having lost several seats across the nation, he said the flip-side of that is a tremendous wealth of talent in Ottawa looking for jobs.

He said he had 27 of the “who’s who” of staff apply for one of his positions in Ottawa. Coupled with returning staff from Jean Crowders office, he said the transfer of knowledge is reduced because the experience is already there.

“Oct. 19 was a bittersweet night for the NDP, we lost a lot of MPs that night … (However) I think I would just like to say how humbled I am in the trust they have placed in me,” he said. “It really is an incredible experience to be elected to represent your community in the house of commons, I will carry with me that trust every day on this job and I will always work hard to keep earning it.”

alim@goldstreamgazette.com

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