New Langley-Aldergrove MP says unity, SkyTrain, business are priorities in Ottawa

Tako van Popta is heading east to take his seat in the House of Commons

Langley’s new MPs will take up their seats in the House of Commons this week, and the MP for Langley-Aldergrove is pretty pleased about it.

“I’m looking forward to getting to Ottawa,” said Tako van Popta, the new Conservative MP for the riding that covers much of Langley and parts of northwestern Abbotsford.

Van Popta was victorious, as was his fellow Conservative and neighbour Tamara Jansen in the Cloverdale-Langley City riding.

“I feel honoured to be in that position,” he said of his election and his departure for Ottawa.

Since the Oct. 21 federal election, van Popta has been winding up his business law practice, and setting up a constituency office.

That latter process was easier, as van Popta opted to take over the lease on the constituency office of the late former MP Mark Warawa. That means the local constituency office will remain in Murrayville.

Warawa had already announced he would be stepping down after his term was up in October, but he was suddenly diagnosed with cancer in the spring. After a brief battle with pancreatic cancer, he died on June 20.

Van Popta, a longtime friend of Warawa’s, was already preparing to run for the seat.

As far as work in Ottawa, van Popta has a number of areas he is hoping to get to work on.

“I’m very interested in trade and commerce,” he said.

As a business lawyer, he’s been involved in the area for years, and he has some strong opinions on interprovincial trade barriers.

There are a number of barriers that prevent or slow the movement of some goods across the boundaries between Canadian provinces, something which has been the subject of meetings at the interprovincial and federal level in recent years. Many of the barriers are due to different regulations on how products can be made or shipped.

“Some of those regulations make no sense at all, certainly not in a modern economy,” said van Popta, and he said he hopes to knock some of them down.

In addition, SkyTrain to Langley is a big issue, one that virtually every local MP and candidate talked about during the campaign.

It may be a chance for van Popta to reach out across the aisle to some members of the Liberals or other parties.

“I don’t know any MP who thinks SkyTrain is a bad idea,” he noted, mentioning specifically that Ken Hardie, the Liberal MP for Fleetwood-Port Kells, is also a big SkyTrain supporter.

TransLink may require more funding from the federal government to get the SkyTrain fully funded. The Liberals, who won only a minority government, have pledged a significant amount of money for new transit funding, but as with all other major votes, they’ll require support from members of at least one other party in the House of Commons to pass the legislation.

One issue that has come up several times since the election is whether Andrew Scheer should remain leader of the Conservative Party. Some party insiders and even a few MPs have been grumbling that he should have won the election against Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, who struggled with scandals before and during the campaign.

Van Popta said he supports Scheer’s leadership.

“I would remind people that he did win the popular vote,” van Popta said.

The Conservatives took 34.41 per cent of the popular vote, just ahead of the Liberals’ share of 33.07 per cent, despite winning fewer seats as many votes were concentrated in western ridings.

While van Popta wouldn’t have minded if his party had won another 20 seats in Ontario, he also credited Scheer with knocking the Liberals down to a minority government.

It’s the west that is one of van Popta’s other concerns – national unity and western alienation.

“I’m concerned about the Liberal government not being sensitive to the needs of the west,” he said.

The House of Commons resumes sitting this Thursday, Dec. 5 and will be in session until Dec. 13.

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