Today the Dixman focus is on Geoff Meggs, close ally of 1990s NDP premier Glen Clark and supporter – on so many fascinating levels – of the NDP’s Adrian Dix. As a central figure in the NDP, what clues to the future does his past hold?
Welcome to the 12 Dixmen series, in which B.C. Political Reports showcases the inner circle of Adrian Dix. Read the series introduction here.
The 12 Dixmen features those who seem most likely to form the inner circle of Adrian Dix if he becomes premier of British Columbia in May 2013. For the most part these individuals are not standing for office and thus will fly under the radar during an election campaign and after.
Are there any new, fresh faces who might be able to help Dix with his stated ambition to govern moderately and gently? Alas not – for behind Dix is a senior cast of characters who were on the scene during the 90s NDP era when nastiness and backroom dealings became an art form and presumably the reason Dix is claiming now to have mended his ways.
City of Vancouver politics always figures heavily in provincial government. Mayors Mike Harcourt and Gordon Campbell later became B.C. premiers. Geoff Meggs is mindful of the lessons of history, having recently authored a book on the one-term NDP government of the early 1970s. He is also a Vancouver city councillor with ambitions to move into the bigger sandbox that is Victoria.
Meggs has been described as “a good friend” of Adrian Dix, a bond that seems to exist with so many of the Dixmen squad from the Glen Clark era of the 90s. He worked directly with Dix in the premier’s office when Meggs was communications director. Meggs was on the job when Dix got himself fired for backdating a memo. Some insights about Meggs’ involvement were discussed by The Vancouver Sun’s Jeff Lee.
And he shares a unique bond with Dix: Meggs’ wife, Jan O’Brien, is the provincial NDP’s secretary.
Meggs also has a background with the B.C. Federation of Labour, working as an assistant to president Jim Sinclair in 2001 and 2002.
In short, Meggs is important enough that he is said to lead the “pragmatic and business-friendly Meggsian wing of the NDP” that includes energy critic John Horgan and NDP president Moe Sihota. Meggs is also part of what’s been called the Kingsway NDP Mafia, a reference to the Vancouver riding Dix represents.
In 2012, Meggs sought the NDP nomination for the provincial riding of Vancouver-Fairview (the riding that current city mayor Gregor Robertson once represented as an MLA). His victory had been regard as a sure thing and when he lost in an upset it came as a shock to civic news watchers. To some, however, the loss suggested that some NDPers may have supported his rival George Heyman because they knew city hall would be deprived of a high-value player.
Had he won, Meggs would have been a sure bet to get an NDP cabinet post.
But there are other openings, for example in Surrey-Tynehead where former Vancouver park board chair Raj Hundal secured the nomination after working hard to deliver the Indo-Canadian vote that was crucial to Dix’s success in the party’s leadership campaign. (Hundal mysteriously relinquished his star candidacy in Fall 2012 and a replacement was being sought.)
Vancouver-Fairview went to Heyman, the former president of the B.C. Government and Services Employees’ Union and now executive director of the Sierra Club of B.C. – and someone with sterling Dixman credentials of his own.
One way or another, Meggs would have huge influence in a Dix government.
COMEBACK RATING (OUT OF 5 ZOMBIES):
This series looks at select Dix loyalists, mostly ones with no plans to run for office but who could be highly influential in a B.C. NDP government. Don’t miss tomorrow when Dixman #5 hits the field.