Murray Rankin

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Murray Rankin
Murray Rankin 2014.jpeg
Murray Rankin speaking in Victoria, BC
Member of the Canadian Parliament
for Victoria
Assumed office
November 26, 2012
Preceded by Denise Savoie
NDP Justice and Attorney General Critic
Assumed office
November 12, 2015
Preceded by Françoise Boivin
Official Opposition Health Critic
In office
January 23, 2015 – November 12, 2015
Preceded by Libby Davies
Succeeded by Kellie Leitch
Official Opposition Pensions Critic
In office
August 9, 2013 – January 23, 2015
Preceded by Irene Mathyssen
Succeeded by John Rafferty
Official Opposition National Revenue Critic
In office
January 17, 2013 – January 23, 2015
Preceded by Hoang Mai
Succeeded by Pierre Dionne Labelle
Personal details
Born (1950-01-26) January 26, 1950 (age 66)[1]
Belleville, Ontario
Political party New Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Linda Hannah
Children Benjamin Rankin
Mark Rankin
Residence Victoria, British Columbia
Alma mater Queen's University
Université de Montréal
McGill University
University of Toronto
Harvard University
Profession Lawyer, Law Professor

T. Murray Rankin, QC, MP (born January 26, 1950) is a Canadian federal politician, university professor, and an internationally recognized expert in environmental and public law.[2][3] Recognised as one of Canada's top lawyers,[4][5] Rankin has served as the Member of Parliament for Victoria since 2012. He is a member of the New Democratic Party and serves as opposition Justice and Attorney General critic.[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.[4][7]

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 where he helped protect the Sooke Potholes, 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][8]

Rankin is a vegetarian,[1] lives in Victoria, British Columbia and is married to Linda Hannah,[9] whom he met at a founding board meeting of the Western Canada Wilderness Committee.[1] They have two children, Benjamin and Mark.[9]

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."[4] Rankin has appeared before all levels of court in British Columbia and in the Supreme Court of Canada.[10][11] Rankin was appointed Queen's Counsel in 1999. He has been listed in Best Lawyers since 2006[3] as well as in both Chambers Global 2012, a influential UK-based legal directory, where he is listed as a leading lawyer worldwide in the field of environmental law and in Lexpert where he is named as an expert in aboriginal law.[2][12]

Law professor[edit]

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]


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.[13] 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.[13]

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.[4][14]

Law practice[edit]

In 1990, Rankin joined up with his friends 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][4]

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.[15] 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.[15] Rankin also successfully defended B.C. Forest Appeals Commission’s jurisdiction in aboriginal rights case before Supreme Court of Canada (2003).[4]

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.[16]

National security[edit]

Rankin is designated a Special Advocate, appointed by the federal Minister of Justice 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.[17] Rankin, an expert on national security issues, is the only Special Advocate in Canada residing in British Columbia.[17] Rankin is also former legal counsel with the Security Intelligence Review Committee, an independent agency of the government of Canada empowered to oversee and review the operations of Canada's security service, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.[18] He has been regional editor of the Canadian Journal of Administrative Law and Practice since its inception.

Political career[edit]

Rankin's first entry into politics was as a volunteer for Stephen Lewis, former leader of the Ontario NDP.[19] Rankin has since acted as an advisor to successive leaders of the BC NDP.[20] 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.[4][21] Rankin also advised BC NDP Opposition Leaders on public policy. Rankin led the NDP legal team to oppose the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines.[20][22][22][23] 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.[20][22][22][23] In the early 2000s Rankin was asked to seek the BC NDP leadership.[4][21] Rankin never entered the race, because of the young age of his two sons,[4] and the contest was eventually won by Carole James.[4][21]

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.[24]

Victoria NDP Nomination (October 14, 2012)

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.[25] Mulcair later added responsibility for Pensions to Rankin's critic portfolio.[26] In 2014 Rankin was elected as Chair of the British Columbia Caucus.[27] On February 23, 2015 Rankin became Official Opposition Health Critic [28] and Vice-Chair of the Standing Committee on Health. Rankin was recognised as a "rising star",[4][4][29][30] one of the NDP's top recruits,[4][4][29][30] and "one of Parliament’s sharpest legal minds".[31]

National Revenue Critic

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 argues puts an unfair burden on honest Canadians.[4][32][33][34] 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.[32][35] 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.[33][36][37]

Rankin also raised concerns over the federal government's crackdown on charities.[38][39][40] In 2012, the Government ordered special audits of charities for political activities, and eventually provided $13.4 million for the initiative.[40] 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.[40][41] 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.[42] Rankin called for public hearings before the finance committee.[40][42]

Health Critic

In his role as Health Critic, Rankin was recognised for securing federal support for Canadian thalidomide victims.[43][44] 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.[43] “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.”[43][44] 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.[45] Taskforce representing Canada's living victims of Thalidomide thanked Rankin for his "tireless championing of our cause".[46]

Climate Change and the Environment

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."[47] Weeks after being sworn in as Member of Parliament, Rankin was barred from entering the Federal 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.”[48] Adding, "I’m opposed to the pipeline and I don’t mind admitting it.”[49]

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

Democratic Reform

Rankin has also championed democratic reform. Rankin has called for proportional representation electoral reform. In an op-ed to the Times Colonist Rankin argued,[50] " 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."[50] While he acknowledged that under a proportional representation electoral system the New Democrats would have had slightly fewer seats in Parliament today, 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."[50]


Rankin gained recognition as a strong opponent of the Government's C-51 "Anti-Terrorism Act".[51] Rankin was former legal counsel to the Security Intelligence Review Committee, received a top-secret clearance, and conducted terrorism hearings.[51] 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.[51] 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.[51]

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.[52] Rankin received the most votes of any NDP candidate in the 2015 election.[53]


On November 12 Rankin was named Justice and Attorney General critic for the NDP.[6] On December 11, 2016, Rankin was elected Vice-Chair of the Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying.[54] On February 16, 2016, Rankin was elected Vice-Chair of Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights.[55]

Electoral record[edit]

Canadian federal election, 2015: Victoria
Party Candidate Votes % ∆% Expenditures
New Democratic Murray Rankin 30,397 42.28 -8.50
Green Jo-Ann Roberts 23,666 32.92 +21.31
Liberal Cheryl Thomas[56] 8,489 11.81 -2.18
Conservative John Rizzuti 8,480 11.79 -11.83
Libertarian Art Lowe 539 0.75
Animal Alliance Jordan Reichert 200 0.28
Independent Saul Andersen 124 0.17
Total valid votes/Expense limit 71,895 100.00   $231,800.33
Total rejected ballots 241 0.33
Turnout 72,136 77.92
Eligible voters 92,574
New Democratic hold Swing -14.90
Source: Elections Canada[57][58]

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 39,032 100.0   $97,992.97
Total rejected ballots 98 0.25
Turnout 39,130 44.02
Eligible voters 88,886
New Democratic hold Swing −12.1


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Murray Rankin". Victoria Times-Colonist, November 26, 2012.
  2. ^ a b "Murray Rankin". Chambers and Partners. 
  3. ^ a b "Best Lawyers World Wide". Retrieved 2013-08-07. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o 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. 
  5. ^ Smith, Charlie (2012-09-09). "Georgia Straight: Murray Rankin says he's seeking federal NDP nomination in Victoria". Retrieved 2013-08-07. 
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  7. ^ Murray Rankin. "Murray Rankin Biography". Retrieved 2013-08-07. 
  8. ^ "Environmental Law Centre: Board of Directors". Retrieved 2013-08-07. 
  9. ^ a b "NDP's Rankin wins Victoria byelection after tight race with Greens". Vancouver Sun, November 26, 2012.
  10. ^ "Murray Rankin gets NDP nomination". Times Colonist. October 15, 2012. 
  11. ^ Roszan Holmen (October 15, 2012). "Victoria environmental lawyer sweeps to NDP nomination". Victoria News. 
  12. ^ "Natural Resource Law". Best Lawyers. Retrieved 2013-08-07. 
  13. ^ a b "University of Victoria - Faculty of Law". Retrieved 2013-08-07. 
  14. ^ "Murray Rankin part 2". Retrieved 2013-08-07. 
  15. ^ a b Murray Rankin. "Murray Rankin LLP: Aboriginal Law". Retrieved 2013-08-07. 
  16. ^ "Global Chambers, Environment: Notable Practitioners". Retrieved 2013-08-07. 
  17. ^ a b Fowlie, Jonathan (2013-07-02). "Terror Plot". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 2013-08-07. 
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ a b c Murray Rankin (August 31, 2012). "B.C. pipeline review needed to restore legal powers". Times Colonist. 
  21. ^ a b c Vaughn Palmer (October 16, 2012). "Lawyer Murray Rankin easily wins federal NDP nomination for Victoria". Vancouver Sun. 
  22. ^ 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. 
  23. ^ a b Louise Dickson (August 22, 2012). "NDP would set up B.C.'s own pipeline review, Adrian Dix announces". Times Colonist. 
  24. ^ "Lawyer vying for NDP nod". Times Colonist. September 9, 2012. 
  25. ^ "Standing Committee on Finance (FINA) Membership". Retrieved 2013-08-07. 
  26. ^ NDP make changes to Official Opposition Shadow Cabinet
  27. ^
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  29. ^ a b Daniel Palmer (2013-07-02). "The Rankin File: six months into the job for Victoria's MP". Retrieved 2013-08-07. 
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  32. ^ a b "National Post: "Murray Rankin: Getting a handle on Canada's 'tax gap'"". 2013-03-28. Retrieved 2013-08-07. 
  33. ^ a b Apr 9, 2013 10:51 AM ET (2013-04-09). "CBC: Revenue Canada cuts undermine tax haven crackdown, NDP says". Retrieved 2013-08-07. 
  34. ^ "Murray Rankin named Official Opposition Critic for National Revenue". 2013-04-17. Retrieved 2013-08-07. 
  35. ^ "Canadians For Tax Fairness: Tax Havens: Put Politics Aside". Retrieved 2013-08-07. 
  36. ^ CBC: Massive data leak exposes offshore financial secrets.
  37. ^ 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. 
  38. ^
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  40. ^ a b c d
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  43. ^ a b c
  44. ^ a b
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  47. ^ "NDP Convention 2013". 2013-04-17. Retrieved 2013-08-07. 
  48. ^ Les Leyne. "Les Leyne: Public hearing security a bit overdone". Retrieved 2013-08-07. 
  49. ^ Simcoe, Luke (2013-01-08). "Metro News: Victoria MP fuming over Enbridge pipeline hearings in Victoria". Retrieved 2013-08-07. 
  50. ^ a b c
  51. ^ a b c d
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  55. ^
  56. ^ "Liberal candidate Cheryl Thomas resigns over Facebook comments". CBC News. CBC News. Retrieved 1 October 2015. 
  57. ^ Elections Canada – Confirmed candidates for Victoria, 30 September 2015
  58. ^ Elections Canada – Preliminary Election Expenses Limits for Candidates
  59. ^ "November 26, 2012 By-elections". Elections Canada. November 27, 2012. Retrieved 27 November 2012. 

External links[edit]