Geoff Meggs could end up with more clout than George Heyman in next NDP government

Today, some progressives are cheering the news that Vancouver councillor Geoff Meggs lost the NDP nomination in Vancouver-Fairview.

Sierra Club of B.C. executive director George Heyman managed to beat off the challenge with the help of some tenants in a social-housing project who face eviction, as well as many environmentalists.

They shouldn't kid themselves: this does not signify the end of Meggs's influence in provincial politics.

His wife, Jan O'Brien, is still the NDP's provincial secretary, which is a misleading title because she is, in effect, the CEO of the organization.

In addition, Meggs is on exceptionally close terms with the leader, Adrian Dix, with whom he worked under former premier Glen Clark.

The pragmatic and business-friendly Meggsian wing of the NDP—which includes party president Moe Sihota, energy critic and house leader John Horgan, finance critic Bruce Ralston (cochair of the caucus platform committee), and former leader Carole James (the other platform committee cochair)—still holds considerable power.

This Blairite group, as a whole, is far less environmentally inclined than Heyman and the greener members of caucus, such as Saanich-South MLA Lana Popham, Maple Ridge–Pitt Meadows MLA Michael Sather, and Powell River–Sunshine Coast MLA Nicholas Simons.

The Meggsian wing of the NDP didn't raise any serious alarm bells about the new Port Mann Bridge, which turned into a $3.3-billion boondoggle. They opposed the carbon tax and don't want to get in the way of a natural-gas fracking bonanza in northeastern B.C. that threatens people's drinking water.

I would wager that when the NDP forms government in 2013, Meggs will still have more influence over provincial policies than Heyman, even if Heyman is elected to the legislature in Vancouver-Fairview.

Dix has many options for making use of Meggs. He could appoint him as principal secretary to the premier or deputy minister of transportation or deputy minister of labour or as the head of government communications—all jobs that wield far more clout than any backbench MLA. It's not out of the question that Meggs could be put in charge of a large Crown corporation, such as B.C. Ferries or ICBC.

If Dix becomes premier, it's virtually certain that Geoff Meggs will be playing a major role in provincial politics—with or without a seat in the B.C. legislature.


Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at twitter.com/csmithstraight.

Comments (29) Add New Comment
Nathan Crompton
Hi Charlie. Thanks for this.
11
3
Rating: +8
Birdman
A lot of truth here and it hurts. The legislative/electoral process becomes increasingly irrelevant with this kind of cronyism at work. No wonder voters grow cynical
5
4
Rating: +1
James G
"When the NDP forms government in 2013?" There is a good chance this will happen but it is still subject to the will of the people.

Well done to remind us again of the potential influence of appointees in government. My suspicion is that a loss could be a win too -- in terms of now playing the victim and hoping to take some of the sting out of his legions of critics, most of us ordinary citizens and victims of his ludicrous notions.
2
4
Rating: -2
JamieLee
I think Mr Heyman won the nomination partly because the riding has a strong green vote. Many green supporters I suspect moved over to the NDP and supported Mr Heyman only because of his strong environmental credentials. Mr Meggs and his wife play hardball politics and if Mr Heyman wins for the NDP and then is shut out of cabinet this would signal that the Dix government could care less about the environment. This could pave the way for Mr Heyman to seriously consider becoming the first Green MLA in BC and hence the leader of the Green Party of BC. So I suggest that Mr Heyman will have more clout than Mr Meggs or his wife Ms O'Brien because he will be carrying the green banner and that can't simply be overlooked in a Green city like Vancouver.
10
11
Rating: -1
@charlie
Who says that the NDP will win? I'd put my money on the Greens or Conservatives before the NDP. Even if the Lieberals are scum who deserve to be kicked to the curb, the NDP were just as bad and Megger was part of it.
7
7
Rating: 0
JBG
Geoff Meggs has always been a committed environmentalist (e.g. Georgia Strait Alliance, bike lanes, public transport), so trying to typecast him as bad for the environment rings hollow. Meggs has many strengths that will be needed in Victoria should the NDP form the next government. Those concerned about the environment, jobs and social justice should now concentrate on holding the current government to account and stop beating up on progressives like Meggs.
6
8
Rating: -2
James G
@JBG

Congratulations, you are the first commentator to frame Councilor Meggs as a victim! Whatever can we do to help him heal? One thing we won't do is stop opposing the right wing Vision agenda on Vancouver City Council because Vancouver also matters but please do offer him a tissue on my behalf.
6
5
Rating: +1
DR
Having trouble following that one Charlie.
7
5
Rating: +2
LostMyGlasses
Half of Meggs critics claim he's a "whacko environmentalist nut job pushing bike lanes" and the other half claim he's a "hardball politician that puts business over the environment".

Charlie, poor, poor journalism. I knew the mainstream media hated nuance, but this brings it to another level.
6
10
Rating: -4
@jbgee
Sure, Geoff is caring as long his neck isn't on the line. How he got elected to council isn't surprising, his lack of sincerity is along with his huge taxi cab bills because while transit is good enough for the masses, he is too important and is in a hurry! He's a bum like Dix.
11
6
Rating: +5
SIA
I'd consider myself a enviro-NDP voter. Last election I voted Green and I'll likely vote NDP next time. Both Heyman and Meggs have strong enviro credentials - there isn't much to separate them. In my opinion, Heyman is more of an oppose everything environmentalist, and Meggs is is a propose solutions enviro (like his push for bike lanes). Both are good.
5
6
Rating: -1
Birdy
re LostMyGlasses
"Half of Meggs critics claim he's a "whacko environmentalist nut job pushing bike lanes" and the other half claim he's a "hardball politician that puts business over the environment"."

Yes, that's because the first half of the critics are politically to the right of Meggs, who are attacking the image he projects. The other half are progressives who see through his facade.
4
5
Rating: -1
Salty One
So he becomes influential. Every government needs its Eminence Grise.
6
9
Rating: -3
Save Vancouver
Meggs pragmatic and busienss friendly? Right, like business really wants the viaducts torn down or that spending $100 million of taxpayers money to do so is pragmatic. LOL.

5
7
Rating: -2
JBG
@Jame G

The article says he is destined for even greater things in Victoria. If so, he is hardly a victim. You on the other hand you seem to want him painted as evil incarnate. My point is to focus on getting progressives like Heyman and Meggs to Victoria. Heyman has graciously acknowledged Meggs as an important asset to the NDP. So should we all.
6
7
Rating: -1
Lee L.
As long as Meggs is gone from Vancouver , I dont care what they do with him.
Robertson next, I hope.
7
7
Rating: 0
Senior Leta
Can he be a Deputy Minister and a City Councillor at the same time?
9
7
Rating: +2
HellSlayerAndy
Who said bike lanes are 'green'?
That's simply the marketing --
1) bike lanes have been standard in many many jurisdictions; it's been so-called 'green' Vancouver that has been behind the times.

2) Folks like Meggs and his ilk are part of that faction that fought against ideas like bike lanes for decades; simply because it's become a strongly inclusive issue that politicians can't ignore anymore is no reason for 'johnny come lately' Vision types to be cast as 'green'; it's like their alternative housing iniatives -- new for Vancouver, old ideas for many many other jurisdictions. Again it is civic folks like Meggs who fought against any deviation from a 'developer led vision' to consistently back housing strategies that only favoured a handful of big developers and their union contractors.

3) many many non-Green Conservatives push bike lanes in order to accommodate the rising voter preference; the other cynical strategy is HEALTH and fitness. A lot of bike lanes have been built under that elusive goal as well.

I don't give credit for these guys inventing wheel, when the wheel has been around for a while; I condemn them for their previous STRATEGIES of keeping the city wheel-free and backwards.
8
5
Rating: +3
Chris S
Looking out my window, expecting to see pigs flying by any second. After all, if Meggs is considered by some on this thread to be a "progressive", then flying pigs is certainly just as likely.
6
4
Rating: +2
JBG
Heyman is going to have to unseat Margaret MacDiarmid. To do so he'll need to address more than enviornmental issues. MacDiarmid is a physcian and is currently Minister of Health. Recently, she's received some good press related to her handling of that portfolio. She's a former Minister of Labour and Minister of Education. Heyman's long career as leader of the BCGEU may or may not be an asset for him in Fairview. There isn't a slam dunk here for the NDP. His supporters need to turn their attention to getting him elected.
5
4
Rating: +1

Pages

Add new comment
To prevent automated spam submissions leave this field empty.