Murray Rankin

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Murray Rankin

Murray Rankin 2014.jpeg
Murray Rankin speaking in Victoria, BC
Chair of the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency
Assumed office
September 1, 2019
Prime MinisterJustin Trudeau
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Victoria
In office
November 26, 2012 – September 1, 2019
Preceded byDenise Savoie
Succeeded byLaurel Collins
NDP House Leader
In office
October 2016 – October 2017
Personal details
Murray Rankin

(1950-01-26) January 26, 1950 (age 70)[1]
Belleville, Ontario
Political partyNew Democratic Party
Spouse(s)Linda Hannah
ChildrenBenjamin Rankin
Mark Rankin
ResidenceVictoria, British Columbia
Alma materQueen's University
Université de Montréal
McGill University
University of Toronto
Harvard University
ProfessionLawyer, Law Professor

Murray Rankin QC (born January 26, 1950) is Chair of the National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA), overseeing all national security and intelligence activities carried out by the Government of Canada.[2][3] Rankin is a former Canadian politician, university professor and environmental and public law expert. Rankin served as the Member of Parliament for Victoria from 2012 to 2019, with roles including NDP House Leader, Justice and Attorney General Critic, Vice-Chair of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, and Member of the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians.[4][5][6]


Rankin was born in Belleville, Ontario, the only male of five children, to Eleanore, a school teacher, and McKinley Rankin, a teacher and insurance agent.[1] He went on to university on scholarships, grants and loans,[1] completing his undergrad at Queen's University and the Université de Montréal and law degrees from the University of Toronto and Harvard University where he graduated summa cum laude with a master's degree in law.[7][8]

Rankin is a founding member and former president of the British Columbia Public Interest Advocacy Centre, an NGO that provides legal services to marginalized groups in British Columbia.[1] He is also former president of West Coast Environmental Law, past chairman of The Land Conservancy of British Columbia, and co-chair of the Environmental Law Centre at the University of Victoria, a student-run legal clinic doing public interest work in environmental law.[1][9]

Rankin is a vegetarian,[1] lives in Victoria, British Columbia, and is married to Linda Hannah,[10] whom he met at a founding board meeting of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee.[1] They have two children, Benjamin and Mark.[10]

Academic and legal career[edit]

According to the Vancouver Sun, Rankin "has fought for gay marriage rights in B.C., acted for governments, industry and First Nations on aboriginal land issues, and has taken a lead role on major environmental court cases in areas like sewage treatment, contaminated sites and environmental assessment."[7] Rankin has appeared before all levels of court in British Columbia and in the Supreme Court of Canada.[11][12] Rankin was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1999.

After finishing graduate school at Harvard Law School, Rankin taught the at the University of Victoria as a professor of law until 1990. Rankin returned to the law school in 2004 to teach part-time as an adjunct professor of law, donating his salary to charity.[1]

In 1990, Rankin joined up with his friend Joseph Arvay to become managing partner for the boutique law firm Arvay Finlay. In 1994, Murray Rankin was appointed by Premier Mike Harcourt as the lead treaty negotiator for the province of British Columbia.[1][7] As treaty negotiator for the Province of British Columbia Rankin negotiated the first agreement in principle under the auspices of the British Columbia Treaty Commission with the Sechelt Indian Band.[13] He also represented the Blueberry River First Nations in the negotiation of the first economic benefits agreement relating to natural resources revenues in British Columbia. He also advised BC Hydro in the landmark agreement with two tribal councils related to the construction of the Lower Mainland Transmission Project.[13] Rankin also successfully defended B.C. Forest Appeals Commission's jurisdiction in aboriginal rights case before Supreme Court of Canada (2003).[7]

Rankin joined the national firm of Heenan Blaikie in 2006 as a partner in their Victoria office. He left the law firm in 2011 in order to pursue an independent practice that focused on environmental, aboriginal and public law.[14]

Political career[edit]

Rankin's first entry into politics was as a volunteer for Stephen Lewis, former leader of the Ontario NDP.[15] Rankin has since acted as an advisor to successive leaders of the BC NDP.[16] When the BC NDP was in power in the 1990s, he helped shape public policy initiatives on access to information, treaty negotiations, land use, environmental policy, and justice.[7][17] Rankin also advised BC NDP Opposition Leaders on public policy. Rankin led the NDP legal team to oppose the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines.[16][18][18][19] He argued that British Columbia should withdraw from the federal government's review process and set up a "made-in-B.C." environmental assessment that ensures BC's economic, social, environmental, and aboriginal interests are fully addressed.[16][18][18][19] In the early 2000s Rankin was asked to seek the BC NDP leadership.[7][17] Rankin never entered the race, because of the young age of his two sons,[7] and the contest was eventually won by Carole James.[7][17]

First term as Member of Parliament[edit]

On September 9, 2012, Rankin announced his intention to seek the NDP nomination to become the federal Member of Parliament for Victoria following Denise Savoie's retirement.[20] On November 26, 2012, Rankin was elected to Parliament with over 37% of the vote.

Rankin was first sworn into office on December 11, 2012. NDP Leader Tom Mulcair immediately named Rankin to a senior role in his shadow cabinet as National Revenue Critic. On January 28, 2013 Rankin was appointed to the Standing Committee on Finance, which reviews fiscal and monetary policy.[21] Mulcair later added responsibility for Pensions to Rankin's critic portfolio.[22] In 2014 Rankin was elected as Chair of the British Columbia Caucus.[23] On February 23, 2015 Rankin became Official Opposition Health Critic [24] and Vice-Chair of the Standing Committee on Health. Rankin was recognised as a "rising star",[7][7][25][26] one of the NDP's top recruits,[7][7][25][26] and "one of Parliament's sharpest legal minds".[27]

In his role as National Revenue Critic, Rankin was an outspoken on the Conservative government's failure to tackle the issue of tax havens and tax evasion, which he argued put an unfair burden on honest Canadians.[7][28][29][30] Rankin criticized layoffs at the Canada Revenue Agency which investigates tax fraud and supported the efforts of Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page to measure the tax gap.[28][31] A CBC and ICIJ investigation later revealed a massive data leak which proved that hundreds of Canadians were exploiting tax havens, including Liberal Senator Pana Merchant.[29][32][33]

Rankin also raised concerns over the federal government's crackdown on charities.[34][35][36] In 2012, the Government ordered special audits of charities for political activities, and eventually provided $13.4 million for the initiative.[36] The audits targeted environmental groups who have opposed the government's energy and pipeline policies, fight poverty, provide international aid and promote human rights, as well as a group of birdwatchers which were targeted for political activity.[36][37] Rankin said he respected the need for audits to ensure charities comply with the rules, but he noted that many charities are now being tied up in paperwork over the audits, instead of being able to fulfil their charitable mandates and called for public hearings before the finance committee.[36][38]

In his role as Health Critic, Rankin was recognised for bringing all parties together for a unanimous vote to compensate survivors of thalidomide poisoning.[6][39][40] The victims, whose mothers were prescribed the federally approved drug for insomnia and morning sickness, were born with partial or missing limbs, blindness, deafness and internal organ damage. "I'm trying to do my very best for these people because I find their situation so poignant, so heart-wrenching," Rankin said.[39] "They have been suffering from their disabilities for their whole lives. The Canadian government told their mothers that thalidomide was safe. That means we have a moral responsibility to provide them with support now."[39][40] In May 2015, the Government agreed to provide victims of the drug annual payments of up to $100,000, depending on the severity of their disability, roughly on par with existing compensation levels in Germany and Britain.[41] Taskforce representing Canada's living victims of Thalidomide thanked Rankin for his "tireless championing of our cause".[42]

Rankin has been an outspoken advocate for environmental protection. Speaking at the 2013 NDP Convention, Rankin told delegates that "the NDP's leadership on the environment has always been a beacon to those of us who have fought to protect our environment and tackle the climate crisis head on."[43] Weeks after being sworn in as Member of Parliament, Rankin was barred from entering the Harper government's "public hearing" on the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines in his Victoria constituency. Speaking to press outside the hearing Rankin said, "I wanted to observe on behalf of my constituents... I've never heard of a public hearing that was not open to the public ... It's Kafkaesque."[44] He added, "I'm opposed to the pipeline and I don't mind admitting it."[45]

Murray Rankin Speaks at 2013 NDP Convention in Montreal (April 13, 2013)

Rankin has also championed democratic reform. He has called for proportional representation electoral reform. In an op-ed to the Times Colonist Rankin argued,[46] "Consensual political institutions involve and empower more citizens. They respond to — and represent — a deeper pool of interests and people. The policies they enact aren't just more representative of the average voter, they're more credible and more stable. Those qualities make consensual politics better for people, better for business, and better for the planet."[46] While he acknowledged that under a proportional representation electoral system the New Democrats would have had fewer seats in Parliament, he wrote "It's a matter of principle. And the principle is simple: Every Canadian deserves fair representation, every voice should be equal and every vote should be counted."[46]

Second term as Member of Parliament[edit]

On October 19, 2015, Rankin was re-elected to Parliament with an increased margin and over 42% of the vote.[47] Rankin received the most votes of any NDP candidate in the 2015 election.[47] The runnerup Green Party was later sanctioned by Elections Canada for violating the Canada Elections Act and "deliberately misleading voters" with "flawed and dated polling data in a bid to get voters to side with [the Green Party] candidate."[48] On July 26, 2016, the Green Party executive director signed a compliance agreement admitting guilt.[49]

On November 12, 2016, Rankin was named Justice and Attorney General critic for the NDP.[50] On December 11, 2016, Rankin was elected Vice-Chair of the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying.[51] The all-party House and Senate committee was struck to advise on the government's response to the Supreme Court's unanimous decision in Carter vs. Canada.[52] On February 16, 2016, Rankin was elected Vice-Chair of Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.[53]

Rankin served as House Leader for the New Democratic Party from October 2016 to October 2017 during the 2017 New Democratic Party leadership election.[54]

In October 2017, Rankin resumed his responsibilities as Justice and Attorney General critic for the NDP and was re-elected Vice-Chair of Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.[53] On November 6, 2017, Rankin was appointed by the Governor General, on the advice of the Prime Minister, to the newly formed National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians.[4][5]

In October 2018, Rankin was nominated by his colleagues from all parties as a finalist for Maclean's "Hardest Working Member of Parliament," alongside Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland and Conservative Party Leader Andrew Scheer.[55]

In 2019, Rankin gained national recognition as Vice Chair of the Justice Committee for his key role investigating the SNC Lavalin affair that ultimately led to the resignation of the Prime Minister's Principle Secretary, the Clerk of the Privy Council, and two Ministers.[56][57]

In 2018, Rankin worked across political parties to ban single-use plastics following a report from a University of Victoria student.[58] In 2019, the Government announced that would ban single-use plastics across the country by 2021.[58]

On February 28, 2019, Rankin announced that he would not be running in the Canadian federal election in 2019.[59] In a farewell speech in June 2019, Rankin called for urgent work towards reconciliation with indigenous peoples and addressing the climate crisis. He also urged the next Parliament to complete work to bring in a comprehensive public pharmacare program for all of Canada. He closed by saying, "Let us all recommit to a fairer Canada. Let us reduce the enormous and growing inequality between the rich and poor in our society. What J.S. Woodsworth said is still true today: “What we desire for ourselves, we wish for all”. However, Jack Layton still said it best: “My friends, love is better than anger.... So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic.”"[60]

In February 2019, the BC Government announced that Rankin had been appointed as B.C.’s representative to help guide and design the reconciliation process between the Province and the Office of the Wet’suwet’en.[61]

National Security & Intelligence career[edit]

While at Harvard Law School Rankin did his graduate thesis on freedom of information and national security matters and in the 1980s worked at the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development in Paris on Transborder Information Flows.[62] Rankin was later integrally involved in the consultations leading up to the enactment of the federal Access to Information Act and Privacy Act (Canada). For his efforts, Rankin received the House of Commons Award of Merit for his contributions to the development of freedom of information and privacy.[62] Rankin was later retained as a special advisor to Colin Gabelmann, the former Attorney General of British Columbia and was a key architect of BC's own Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.[7][63]

Rankin was former legal counsel to the Security Intelligence Review Committee, received a top-secret clearance, and conducted terrorism hearings.[64] He was later appointed by the Justice Minister as a special advocate to do national security work under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act where national security issues arise to protect the interests of people named in security certificates during hearings from which they and their own lawyers are excluded due to national security concerns.[64][65][66]

As Member of Parliament, Rankin gained recognition as a strong opponent of the Harper Government's C-51 "Anti-Terrorism Act".[64] Speaking in the House of Commons on C-51 Rankin argued, "The government has failed to make the case for the new powers it seeks. This is another omnibus bill by the Conservatives that would expand the powers of CSIS dramatically but would fail to strengthen oversight and review powers." He argued that the bill violated constitutional rights and would not protect Canadians.[64] In 2017, Rankin was appointed by the Governor General, on the advice of the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, to the newly formed National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians.[4][5]

In July 2019, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau named Rankin to lead the newly created National Security and Intelligence Review Agency (NSIRA), overseeing all national security and intelligence activities carried out by the Government of Canada.[2]

Electoral record[edit]

2015 Canadian federal election: Victoria
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
New Democratic Murray Rankin 30,397 42.28 -8.50 $222,151.95
Green Jo-Ann Roberts 23,666 32.92 +21.31 $147,733.88
Liberal Cheryl Thomas[67] 8,489 11.81 -2.18 $36,199.72
Conservative John Rizzuti 8,480 11.79 -11.83 $72,891.79
Libertarian Art Lowe 539 0.75 +0.26 $900.00
Animal Alliance Jordan Reichert 200 0.28 $10,110.17
Independent Saul Andersen 124 0.17
Total valid votes/Expense limit 71,895 100.00   $234,268.29
Total rejected ballots 241 0.33
Turnout 72,136 77.92
Eligible voters 92,574
New Democratic hold Swing -14.90
Source: Elections Canada[68][69]

Canadian federal by-election, November 26, 2012: Victoria
On the resignation of Denise Savoie
Party Candidate Votes % ±% Expenditures
New Democratic Murray Rankin 14,507 37.17 −13.61 $95,540
Green Donald Galloway 13,389 34.30 +22.69 $97,264
Conservative Dale Gann 5,654 14.49 −9.14 $90,170
Liberal Paul Summerville 5,097 13.06 −0.92 $81,254
Libertarian Art Lowe 193 0.49 $496
Christian Heritage Philip Ney 192 0.49 $3,499
Total valid votes/Expense limit 39,032 100.00   $97,992.97
Total rejected ballots 98 0.25
Turnout 39,130 44.02
Eligible voters 88,886
New Democratic hold Swing −12.1


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  2. ^ a b "Trudeau names outgoing NDP MP Murray Rankin to lead new security-review agency | The Star". Retrieved 2019-07-24.
  3. ^ Knox, Jack. "Jack Knox: Murray Rankin's 'daunting' role as new spy watchdog". Times Colonist. Retrieved 2019-07-25.
  4. ^ a b c "Trudeau names parliamentary committee to oversee security, intelligence agencies". CBC News. Retrieved 2017-11-13.
  5. ^ a b c Office, Government of Canada, Privy Council. "Privy Council Office Secretariats". Archived from the original on 2017-11-14. Retrieved 2017-11-13.
  6. ^ a b "Murray Rankin, Q.C." Prime Minister of Canada. 2019-07-24. Retrieved 2019-07-24.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n O'Neil, Peter (2013-05-31). "Murray Rankin: Rookie B.C. MP shows chops as lawyer in helping NDP develop strategy to attack Stephen Harper". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 2013-08-07.
  8. ^ Murray Rankin. "Murray Rankin Biography". Retrieved 2013-08-07.
  9. ^ "Environmental Law Centre: Board of Directors". Archived from the original on 2013-09-22. Retrieved 2013-08-07.
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  11. ^ "Murray Rankin gets NDP nomination". Times Colonist. October 15, 2012.
  12. ^ Roszan Holmen (October 15, 2012). "Victoria environmental lawyer sweeps to NDP nomination". Victoria News.
  13. ^ a b Murray Rankin. "Murray Rankin LLP: Aboriginal Law". Retrieved 2013-08-07.
  14. ^ "Global Chambers, Environment: Notable Practitioners". Retrieved 2013-08-07.
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  16. ^ a b c Murray Rankin (August 31, 2012). "B.C. pipeline review needed to restore legal powers". Times Colonist. Archived from the original on September 2, 2012. Retrieved August 31, 2012.
  17. ^ a b c Vaughn Palmer (October 16, 2012). "Lawyer Murray Rankin easily wins federal NDP nomination for Victoria". Vancouver Sun.
  18. ^ a b c d Sunny Dhillon (August 22, 2012). "B.C. NDP Leader vows to back out of Ottawa's Enbridge review". The Globe and Mail.
  19. ^ a b Louise Dickson (August 22, 2012). "NDP would set up B.C.'s own pipeline review, Adrian Dix announces". Times Colonist.
  20. ^ "Lawyer vying for NDP nod". Times Colonist. September 9, 2012.
  21. ^ "Standing Committee on Finance (FINA) Membership". Retrieved 2013-08-07.
  22. ^ NDP make changes to Official Opposition Shadow Cabinet
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  29. ^ a b "CBC: Revenue Canada cuts undermine tax haven crackdown, NDP says". 2013-04-09. Retrieved 2013-08-07.
  30. ^ "Murray Rankin named Official Opposition Critic for National Revenue". 2013-04-17. Retrieved 2013-08-07.
  31. ^ "Canadians For Tax Fairness: Tax Havens: Put Politics Aside". Retrieved 2013-08-07.
  32. ^ CBC: Massive data leak exposes offshore financial secrets.
  33. ^ Apr 3, 2013 6:03 PM ET (2013-04-04). "CBC: Senator's husband put $1.7M in offshore tax havens". Retrieved 2013-08-07.
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  44. ^ Les Leyne. "Les Leyne: Public hearing security a bit overdone". Retrieved 2013-08-07.
  45. ^ Simcoe, Luke (2013-01-08). "Metro News: Victoria MP fuming over Enbridge pipeline hearings in Victoria". Retrieved 2013-08-07.
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  48. ^ "Greens admit to deliberately misleading Victoria voters". Vancouver Sun. 2016-07-26. Retrieved 2016-10-22.
  49. ^ "Green Party sanctioned over misleading campaign material in Victoria".
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  52. ^ Rankin, Murray. "Murray Rankin: Bill C-14 violates rights of many suffering patients". Times Colonist. Retrieved 2016-10-22.
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  63. ^ "Murray Rankin part 2". Retrieved 2013-08-07.
  64. ^ a b c d
  65. ^ Fowlie, Jonathan (2013-07-02). "Terror Plot". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 2013-08-07.
  66. ^
  67. ^ "Liberal candidate Cheryl Thomas resigns over Facebook comments". CBC News. CBC News. Retrieved 1 October 2015.
  68. ^ Elections Canada – Confirmed candidates for Victoria, 30 September 2015
  69. ^ Elections Canada – Final Candidates Election Expenses Limits
  70. ^ "November 26, 2012 By-elections". Elections Canada. November 27, 2012. Retrieved 27 November 2012.

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