As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced his new cabinet in Ottawa on Wednesday, Terry Beech was more than 3,500 kilometres away, in Victoria, B.C.
“I didn’t make the cut,” the recently re-elected Liberal told the NOW.
But Beech, entering his second term as an MP, didn’t seem bothered that he won’t have “Minister” before his name when Parliament reconvenes Dec. 5.
“There’s no bad seats in the House of Commons, and I’m excited to serve the people of Burnaby North-Seymour,” he said.
Beech is not a current member of Parliament. He will regain the title he lost at the dissolution of Parliament in September when he is sworn in for a second term on Dec. 4.
He said he’s been busy since beating the NDP’s Svend Robinson by just over three percentage points (1,500 votes) on Oct. 21. This week’s trip to the provincial capital to meet with MLAs and hear about their priorities is part of his preparation for the next four years, he said.
Beech said his focus will be on housing, growing the economy, improving communication with his constituents and climate change.
He said he is “really excited” to work with his North Vancouver neighbour, Jonathan Wilkinson, who was named the minister of environment and climate change. The issue will be “right at the forefront” in the coming years, he said.
And the newly created minister of middle class prosperity will ensure government finds “the right balance” between growing the economy and tackling climate change, he said.
Beech said he’s continuing to work with BC Housing, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the City of Burnaby to get more affordable housing built in Burnaby.
Mayor Mike Hurley is pushing to have the Canada Post office on a federally owned Sussex Avenue lot redeveloped into social housing.
Beech said it would be a “great housing site,” but the post office is still operating there which makes the proposal “complicated.”
The city has suggested building a new post office with new housing on the same site.
Beech said he couldn’t promise the proposal would go forward in the next four years.
“If we can do something innovative here, I certainly am looking forward to pursuing it,” he said.
But the Liberals will also be returning to the House of Commons as a minority government, meaning they will have to collaborate with other parties to pass bills.
Beech said he sees the new arrangement as a positive.
“There's going to be more joint discussions, more open joint debate, more private committee meetings (and) extracurricular activities after work,” he said. “I'm excited for that. That's an environment that I think I'll enjoy.”
Part of that collaborative approach could start right at home in Burnaby, with the leader of the NDP, Burnaby South’s Jagmeet Singh, who could play a big part in helping the Liberals pass legislation and remain in power, he said.
Beech said he has extended an open invitation to Singh and his wife to join his family for dinner at his North Burnaby home.
“I'm looking forward to working with him as members of Parliament and trying to get everything we can to improve the lives of people in Burnaby – that's the one thing that we absolutely have in common,” he said.