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.