MP says ‘pleasant persistence’ pays off

Rachel Blaney looks back at first term in office

Rachel Blaney, New Democrat MP for the North Island-Powell River, speaks to party members at Merville Hall. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

Rachel Blaney relied on “pleasant persistence,” and a strong connection with local governments and organizations, to advocate for North Island-Powell River constituents during her first four years as a member of parliament.

She says collaborative efforts helped bring in $25 million to the riding during her first two years after being elected.

“I’m really proud of the work that I’ve done. I feel that we’ve done a good job in my office of making sure that we’re the North Island-Powell River voice in Ottawa,” Blaney said. “I really believe it’s that pleasant persistence. I didn’t try to pick fights with people, I just tried to get things done.”

A highlight of her term was working with former Comox mayor Paul Ives to secure the fixed-wing search and rescue project at CFB Comox.

“I hope people remember there were multiple bases trying to get that project, and Comox was successful,” she said. “It’s great for our local economy.”

When she ran for office, Blaney repeatedly heard about challenges posed by high costs of ferry travel, which is a provincial issue. Nevertheless, after being elected, she and other coastal MPs advocated for federal funds to be made available for terminal upgrades. She said $60 million has since come into the riding to help BC Ferries upgrade terminals.

Blaney serves as vice-chair of Indigenous and Northern Affairs. Bill C-92 — An Act respecting First Nations, Inuit, and Metis children, youth and families — passed at the end of the last session in the House, following the testimony of many witnesses. Several of Blaney’s recommended amendments were accepted.

“I didn’t get everything I wanted, but I got some pivotal things that looked at protecting Indigenous children, and making sure that we were moving in the right direction,” she said, noting B.C. contains the largest number of Indigenous communities in the country. “When we talk about reconciliation, these are some of the key things that we want to see moving forward.”

As co-chair of the standing committee on Veterans Affairs, Blaney is pleased about the passing of a motion that calls for government, after the fall election, to formulate a plan to address the estimated 3,000 to 5,000 homeless veterans in Canada.

“That’s a good number, but it’s not so big that we can’t deal with it. We’re looking forward to seeing some solutions.”

Another hat she wears is Seniors’ Critic for the NDP. On July 1, Old Age Security (OAS) and Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) payments increased, but Blaney said the combined increases work out to an extra $12-16 per month.

“How is that going to make a difference?” she said, noting the need for a National Seniors Strategy. “We need a plan that doesn’t leave so many seniors struggling.”

Blaney will be seeking re-election Oct. 21.

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