Welcome back, Peggy

[attach]4321[/attach]When Peggy Nash arrived in Ottawa for the first time after the election, some of the security guards greeted her by name.

It was nice to be remembered for the former NDP MP who in May reclaimed the Parkdale–High Park seat she lost to Liberal Gerard Kennedy in 2008.

Nash, also president of the NDP, hasn’t wasted any time transitioning back into her old job.

She spent the day after the election responding to interviews, stopping by her campaign office and writing thank you letters.

“This time I feel that I can better hit the ground running,” Nash says. “Last time the learning curve was steeper.”

Since the election, she’s also been to a Clean Train Coalition meeting, a fundraiser at Swansea Town Hall, a Jane’s Walk, the Contact photography festival and the Junction Rib Fest.

“I’ve always had a very busy schedule,” she says. “I’m someone who travels well.”

[attach]4322[/attach]Nash is also planning to set up regular meetings to hear what community members want to see done, and is also trying to organize a Canada Day celebration in High Park.

The way the community gets involved in these kinds of events is what attracted her to representing the riding.

“It’s a place that people care about,” she says.

She and her husband first moved to the area in 1987 because of its livability.

But her connection with this community goes back much earlier as her great-grandmother once lived in a small apartment on Roncesvalles Avenue after coming to the city from Scotland. As a child, Nash’s mother remembers being given money to go across the street to the Revue Cinema.

So Nash’s connection to Parkdale-High Park is a decidedly personal one, and she says she wouldn’t run for office anywhere else.

“It doesn’t interest me; I would only want to represent my own community.”

In the riding, a proposed rail link between Pearson Airport and Union Station and replacing existing diesel GoTrains with electric locomotives has become a controversial issue. The provincial transportation agency Metrolinx, wants to initially purchase diesel trains for the airport line and transition to electric over 25 years.

Nash says that won’t do.

“In the long run it’ll cost more and that’s if government does it,” Nash says.

She and other MPs Olivia Chow, Andrew Cash and Mark Sullivan want to get the federal government to cost-share the electrification of the line with the province.

Nash hopes that the Conservatives’ main goal, to help the economy and boost productivity, will translate into modernizing Toronto’s transit system.

“I’m hoping that the Conservatives (will) learn to love Toronto,” Nash says with a laugh. “We’ll just keep hugging them and hope that they hug us back.”

Nash says that she’ll also be fighting for health care on Parliament Hill. She wants more doctors, nurses and midwives to reduce the cost of acute care.

“If we’re trying to find cost savings in our healthcare system you don’t wait until the wheels fall off your car until you take it in, you do preventative maintenance.”

Nash says it’s terrific to be a member of the Official Opposition. It means more resources, greater research capacity, more members on committees and more questions in the House of Commons.

“I just think we have a greater chance to make a difference,” she says.

Nash acknowledges there will be differences of principle between the NDP and Conservatives, but disagrees with fears that the election may have polarized the political landscape.

“I think that the job of the opposition is of course to oppose and criticize, but it’s also to try to work on behalf of Canadians, and where we can find solutions we are going to do that.”