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PNT columnist Geoff Meggs named chief of staff to B.C. NDP Premier John Horgan

Geoff Meggs stepped down as Vancouver city councillor on July 4 after being hired as chief of staff to incoming B.C.NDP  Premier John Horgan.

Meggs is a longtime contributor to the Philippine Asian News Today (PNT), the biggest newspaper in the Filipino Canadian community in B.C.

As a columnist with PNT, Meggs has written extensively on matters that are important to Filipino Canadians.

His appointment is a key move for Horgan as the B.C. NDP prepares to take power after the B.C. Liberals lost a confidence vote.

Horgan is scheduled to be sworn in as Premier on July 18.

Meggs was once editor of the Fishermen’s Union newspaper. He 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 B.C. Human Rights Board.

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.

Meggs lives with his wife Jan in a False Creek town house. They have two adult daughters.

Since his election to Vancouver councul, Meggs has worked on a number of difficult and high-profile issues, including the city’s delivery of successful Winter Olympic Games, the refinancing of the Olympic Village, the implementation of a region-wide U-Pass and the expansion of cycling infrastructure.

In 2011 he was appointed as a Vancouver director on the Metro Vancouver board, where he serves on the housing and aboriginal affairs committees.

Meggs is an award-winning journalist and author whose career has combined community and social activism with senior leadership positions in government and the labour movement. He has the reputation of someone who knows how to balance idealism and pragmatism.

He learned how the city works during his three years as an executive assistant to Mayor Larry Campbell.

Born and raised in Toronto and Ottawa, Meggs graduated from the University of Toronto and began his career in journalism with a community paper in Toronto, before moving on to a Calgary daily and then The Canadian Press in Vancouver.

During the 1980s, he won more than 20 awards as the editor of the coastwide paper published by Fishermen’s Union, where he developed a wide range of contacts in coastal communities and among First Nations. His history of the salmon fishery won the Lieutenant Governor’s Medal for the best work of BC history in 1992.

In 1990, Meggs became communications director of the Hospital Employees Union, working with health care workers as they won historic pay equity settlements and negotiated critical agreements to support reform of the health care system. In 1996, he was appointed communications director in the Premier’s Office under Glen Clark.

After successfully establishing his own communications consulting business in 1999, Meggs returned to the labour movement in 2001 as assistant to Jim Sinclair, president of the BC Federation of Labour, a position he held until he was hired by Mayor Larry Campbell on election night in 2002. He was a founding member of Vision Vancouver and served on its executive from 2005 to 2008.

Meggs left City Hall in September 2005 to work full time in support of Jim Green’s candidacy for mayor. When Green was defeated, Meggs returned to the BC Federation of Labour as Executive Director, a position he left in January 2008 to resume his private consulting practice through his firm, Tideline Communications.

Meggs is an avid cyclist and hiker, usually putting aside a week each summer for a back country trip with his family.

by Alex Mino and Rey Forteleza