Alistair MacGregor concluded "an incredibly long journey" Sunday afternoon when he successfully won the vote to become the NDP’s nominee in the brand new riding of Cowichan-Malahat-Langford.
Other contenders for the nomination included Georgia Collins, Ellen Oxman, Ian Morrison, Hilary Abbott and Nick Wade, and MacGregor was full of praise for his "amazing" rivals.
MacGregor "caught the political bug" while working for current Nanaimo-Cowichan MP Jean Crowder. He had planned to submit his name to run in whichever riding Crowder decided not to, but when she announced her retirement, he immediately declared his intentions to try for the riding he calls home.
He calls the 11 months he’s been on the campaign trail "good training."
MacGregor will carry the party’s flag into the federal election, widely expected to be called this fall. His plan is to continue with the same kind of strategy that saw him come out on top in Sunday’s vote, putting an emphasis on doorknocking to make personal connections with constituents. MacGregor acknowledged that he has some work to do to make himself a familiar face in Langford. To that end, he’s working to connect with NDP MLA for the area John Horgan.
"You have to earn your way into these things," he said.
He recognizes that campaigning in a geographically "weird" riding like this one, with the Malahat creating a barrier between the communities of Langford and Cowichan, which are distinct and different from each other, will be a challenge.
However, having lived here for 24 years, he feels he has good roots in the Cowichan Valley, and Langford’s large population of young families with two working parents is a demographic that mirrors his own family, so he understands their challenges.
"One of the things I’ve learned over my time in Jean’s office is that if people don’t have economic security, if they’re worrying about their next paycheque or whether they’re going to be able to make housing payments or pay for food, it’s hard to make a connection to any other issue, so certainly I think the economy is not doing so well, so we’ll have to concentrate on that," MacGregor said.
The NDP’s focus on helping small business and particularly their national $15 per day daycare plan will appeal to voters, he said.
"I know daycare costs are a huge part of a family’s budget. In some cases people are paying more for daycare than they are for their mortgage and I think with the current approach with the $100 per month per child, it’s going up to $150, but that really is just a drop in the bucket for costs," MacGregor said.
He likes his chances of success in the upcoming election, he said, both because he’ll be working hard, and because the Conservatives are in the position of having to defend their record.
"I know there is a better way," MacGregor said, and he’s ready to "hit the ground running" to make it happen.