Power across the pond

Post by Mike Klassen in

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Mayor Meggs is keeping close relations with Victoria

Crack Victoria beat reporter Sean Holman – a.k.a. the Godfather of all BC political bloggers – likes to connect the dots. During the recent NDP convention in downtown Vancouver, Sean provided the best continuous coverage of this political event of any media. He also picked up a few pieces of scuttlebutt like the fact that Jan O'Brien, wife of powerful caucus whip Mayor "Geoff" Meggs and VanCity director, was rumoured to be appointed as the BC NDP's Provincial Secretary.

Holman let his readers know early yesterday that she was confirmed in this job, and he's positively bubbly about the news:

..look who's been appointed to that position! Why it's Ms. O'Brien!

So what does a Provincial Secretary for the NDP do exactly, and why does it matter that this cozy power couple exists? According to Wikipedia:

In the provincial sections of the New Democratic Party, the provincial secretary is the senior administrative officer, and may be by title or function Chief Executive Officer, of the non-parliamentary wing of the party and is responsible for organizing provincial conventions, provincial councils and other meetings, membership drives, fundraising and other day to day operations. As well, the provincial secretary usually has a senior role in administering the party's electoral campaigns.

So in other words, O'Brien is the party's top employee devoted to membership and campaigns. She will be a non-voting member of the party's executive, lead by Party leader Carole James and the new BC NDP president Moe Sihota.

What is unprecedented in this relationship in the history of BC politics is that you have policy, membership, finance, and party operations for two major political organizations connected back to a single household. Meggs was formerly Financial Agent for Vision Vancouver before becoming the de facto leader of the party governing Vancouver City Hall.

O'Brien with her treasurer will also be intimately involved in her party's finances, including sources for fundraising. Both O'Brien and Meggs have worked in the executive of BC's biggest union – the BCGEU – which is also the biggest financial backer of left wing politics in the province. O'Brien will also be responsible for the BC NDP's membership lists. They say that political parties are nothing without these lists, which gives you a sense of the importances of her new role.

During the provincial election last spring we received regular reports about list sharing taking place between Vision Vancouver and the NDP, something that the party vehemently denied in our complaint to BC's Privacy Commissioner.

There's no insinuation in what I've just written. The fact is that because of the closeness of having a married couple linked as two parts of a powerful connection between Vancouver and provincial politics,  voters are forced to place a lot of faith in the integrity of Meggs and O'Brien not to mix the two. When you're determined to win however, sometimes it's easy to blur the lines.

You only have to look at Meggs determination to kill the City's number one insurance policy against getting rolled over by their public service union – pulling Vancouver out of the Labour Relations Bureau. That was a pure payback to his pals in Big Labour, no matter how he tries to spin it. There's little doubt that Mayor Meggs covets his increasing influence, and he plans to use it.

- Post by Mike

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