News / Vancouver

Vancouver Coun. Geoff Meggs resigns to be top Horgan staffer

Vision Vancouver councilor and former labour journalist chosen to be Chief of Staff to B.C. NDP leader and Premier-Designate.

B.C. NDP leader and Premier-Designate John Horgan (left) stands with Vancouver City Coun. Geoff Meggs.

Supplied/Twitter: Stepan Vdovine/Vision Vancouver

B.C. NDP leader and Premier-Designate John Horgan (left) stands with Vancouver City Coun. Geoff Meggs.

Vision Vancouver Coun. Geoff Meggs stepped down from City Council early Tuesday afternoon — after being hired as B.C. Premier-designate John Horgan's new chief of staff.

Former NDP Chief of Staff Bob Dewar approached Meggs after the May 9 election, the three-term city councillor told Metro, and he discussed the role with Horgan.

“Last week or so it began to really clarify, and I was delighted and honoured to take the offer … to work on issues that are so important to me, with someone I like as much as John,” Meggs said in a phone interview as he cleaned out his City Hall office.

His appointment is a key move for Horgan as he prepares to take power after the B.C. Liberals lost a confidence vote last week, allowing the B.C. NDP a chance to return to office after 16 years.

As Horgan solidifies his transition to government, Dewar moved to a position as his senior advisor. A Cabinet hasn’t yet been announced but a swearing-in is expected in the next three weeks.

Meggs — who was once editor of the Fishermen’s Union newspaper — was first elected to Vancouver politics in 2008 with the Vision Vancouver slate, which has extensive ties to the provincial New Democrats. His wife, Jan O'Brien, was provincial secretary for the NDP until its electoral loss in 2013.

In the 1990s, he was communications director for former B.C. NDP Premier Glen Clark.

With retired Globe and Mail bureau chief Rod Mickleburgh, Meggs co-authored The Art of the Impossible, about the history of B.C.’s first NDP government from 1972-75, headed by Premier Dave Barrett — including creating ICBC, the Agricultural Land Reserve, requiring politicians to reveal their donors, and the BC Human Rights Board.

“The Barrett government showed that you can be bold and people will respond well to it,” Meggs said. “There are enduring contributions that government made that still inspire people to this day … You can do a lot in government and it's worth trying.”

Stepan Vdovine, executive director for Vision Vancouver, tweeted his congratulations, calling Meggs "one of the best, sharpest minds in the trade.”

One of Meggs’ City Council opponents, the Non-Partisan Association’s George Affleck, wished him “the best in his new career,” adding he “wasn’t surprised” by his hiring.

“That was an obvious move,” Affleck said. “A by-election is costly for taxpayers, but I understand where Geoff’s coming from because it’s an opportunity.

“I’m sure he won’t miss me, but he’s always proven to be a strong foe in the chamber, and we often have good debates and robust ones.”

The 41-seat NDP signed a cooperation pact with the three-MLA Green Party, meaning they will prop up the NDP in any confidence votes, giving them a 44-seat block and narrow majority.

But with the NDP winning just four seats outside the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island, the B.C. Liberals have accused it of ignoring rural and resource issues. Asked about this political divide, Meggs cited his work at the Fishermen’s Union and province-wide organizations such as the B.C. Federation of Labour.

“When you go to work for John, you're working to help the entire province,” Meggs insisted. “It's not just a Vancouver assignment by any means, and I'm going to have that very much at the front of my mind.”

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