Thomas Mulcair, who is quite likely to be the next NDP federal leader and leader of the opposition in Ottawa, visited Langley on Friday night.
His visit was a rarity — national political leaders, and even prospective leaders, rarely visit here. One contender for the Liberal leadership in 2006, Martha Hall Findlay, came to Langley, and former Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff was here in 2010 — but their visits were the exception.
The last time Stephen Harper made a public visit to Langley, he was leader of the Canadian Alliance Party. That was in 2003. Jack Layton never visited here while he was NDP leader.
National political parties seem to feel they have covered the bases in Langley if their leaders visit Surrey or Abbotsford. Both cities regularly get visits from national leaders, particularly during elections.
In addition, Harper makes a regular appearance at a summer barbecue at Senator Gerry St. Germain’s Surrey ranch, and Jean Chretien visited Abbotsford while he was prime minister.
Langley residents likely aren’t that concerned. Federal politics tends to be more peripheral for many people. Ottawa is far away and the day-to-day impact of the federal government on citizens’ lives isn’t all that noticeable to most people.
The main concern that Langley residents have about federal politics is that they are well-represented in Ottawa, and most voters have expressed satisfaction with Conservative MP Mark Warawa, whose collected 64.5 per cent of the votes in the most recent election in 2011.
His share of the vote has been strong since he was first elected in 2004, and has edged up regularly in the following three elections.
It is true that the percentage of people not voting has also been quite high, and thus it is hard to know exactly how every Langley resident feels. However, not voting at all is often interpreted as satisfaction with the status quo, and there is no way to prove that it isn’t.
Mulcair may well be the next NDP leader. Several of his fellow candidates seem to think so, as they were going after him at the last NDP leadership debate on Sunday in Vancouver.
If he does become leader of the opposition, at least he will know where Langley is, and some of the concerns of Langley residents. That’s good to know.