Getting down to work
A little less than one month ago, they were staring down the home stretch of a federal election campaign. Conservative incumbent Andrew Saxton and Liberal Taleeb Noormohamed were the two frontrunners in the-expected-to-be-tight riding of North Vancouver.
The race, however, ended early May 2, with Saxton winning handily over his Liberal opponent by a margin of nearly 11,000 votes. But as the dust continues to settle on Canada’s 41st election, both the victor and the second-place finisher say they’re ready to continue working for Canada.
For Saxton, the newly elected Conservative majority government means the ability to focus entirely on work for the next four years without the constant “threat of an election.”
“The most exciting part is the fixed length of time, with 100 per cent devoted to work,” says Saxton.
“And the economy remains very much on the top of our minds. It’s our number one priority.”
A local project of focus for Saxton is the highly-contested re-alignment of the Low Level Road. Residents in the area of Alder Street have been a vocal opposition to Port Metro Vancouver’s proposed raising of the road to the approximate height of Third Street.
A portion of the $100-million price tag is infrastructure grants from the federal government, and the new road brings with it significant financial considerations. Neptune Terminals will be able to take advantage of new, devoted overpasses and the addition of two more train lines will allow for more product to be shipped from the already busy commodities hub.
But, Saxton says, a re-worked proposal will be the key to satisfying residents and capitalizing on the economic opportunities that the project is expected to provide.
“I believe the port has agreed to lower the road,” adds Saxton.
“It’s a huge investment and I have received a fair number of complaints so hopefully this decision helps. It will be a huge improvement when tweaked.”
While Saxton embarks on another stint representing a party enjoying its greatest success to date, Noormohamed finds himself in a much different place, rebuilding the nearly-decimated Grits.
The attack ads, vote-split, Orange crush — countless reasons have been discussed about why Canada’s oldest federal party now enjoys its most paltry presence in the House of Commons. But, Noormohamed says, the core tenet behind the poor results is simple – the Liberals did not do a good job informing Canadians on what the party stands for.
“It’s about putting life to what we stand for and showing how important it is to have a sensible middle. But we lost some of the roots of who we are,” says Noormohamed.
“It’s the party and not the leader, that has to be the message. And that has to be clear.”
To help re-establish his floundering party, Noormohamed says he is starting local by hosting a series of round-table policy sessions. The chance to listen to residents, both of the political junkie and just-getting-interested ilk, will be a key factor “in crafting what the party is” moving forward.
“We all have to take some measure of responsibility for what happened. But we have to do a much better, nationally, defining ourselves,” he says.
“You can’t define by what you’re not. Not for jets, not for jails and so on is not good enough.”