On the Mark: John’s approach a welcome one

Gord Johns has at least one thing in common with Dr. Frasier Crane—he listens.

Gord Johns has at least one thing in common with Dr. Frasier Crane.

Crane, portrayed by Kelsey Grammer on the Cheers spinoff Frasier, would often say, “I’m listening” to callers on his open-line radio show.

In a welcome change from Conservative MPs allowed to truly listen only to their leader, rookie NDP MP Johns is on his third swing through the sprawling Courtenay-Alberni riding since the Oct. 19 federal election.

In a whirlwind series of gatherings with constituents in the Alberni Valley, Comox Valley, Parksville and elsewhere, Johns must feel like he’s still campaigning.

With one crucial difference.

Then, he wanted something from constituents – votes. Now, as an elected MP, Johns wants to know what they want from him.

“I’ve met with every mayor in the riding…I’ve met with almost every (First Nations) chief in the riding, I’ve met with the Nuu-Chah-Nulth Tribal Council, I’ve done meet-and-greets in all sections of the riding, and I’ve been to Ottawa three times,” Johns says in an interview.

Generally, he says, people are excited about change and an optimistic, hopeful message emanating from Ottawa.

Johns says his “ground-up approach…to community economic development, to community politics and to community building” is going over well.

“I’m taking that approach to Ottawa instead of Ottawa coming to communities telling communities how they’re going to deliver (programs).”

Again, a significant departure from the one-man government of the Harper years.

Johns did a risk assessment of each community to help him identify priorities.

His list of Alberni Valley positives includes “people power,” infrastructure, affordability, resilience and potential such as a trans-shipment hub and The Coulson Group’s aeronautics.

“The downside of Port Alberni is it’s kind of bottom of the barrel in socio-economic indicators in B.C.” The relatively new Port Alberni resident notes that one-third of children in the city live in poverty, far above B.C. and national averages.

Johns indicates his success (on Tofino council and the Tofino–Long Beach Chamber of Commerce as well as small enterprises ranging from a natural clothing company to a vacation rental business) was due to his ability to network, being a visionary and bringing people together.

He plans to continue this approach as an MP.

Although NDP leader Tom Mulcair recognized Johns’ background by naming him the party’s critic for small business and tourism, the new MP stresses that his top objective is representing his riding.

Another high priority since finally getting an office and staff in Ottawa in the first week of December is hiring staff and establishing a presence in the riding.

Due to its central location, Parksville will likely get the main constituency office, with satellite offices in the Alberni and Comox valleys.

Johns’ enterprising small-business background, his concern for the environment and his strong familiarity with much of the new riding make him an ideal candidate to represent the people of Courtenay-Alberni.

His willingness to listen is another invaluable asset.

 

Mark Allan has been a journalist for mor than 30 years, the past 14 on Vancouver Island. His column about B.C. and federal politics will run every two weeks in the Alberni Valley News.

Just Posted

Port Alberni court house (Alberni Valley News)
Coroners’ inquest into 2016 death of Port Alberni teen rescheduled for June 21

18-year-old Jocelyn George died of heart failure after spending time in jail cell

CELEBRATING IN STYLE
Members of the 2021 Alberni District Secondary School graduating class pose for a photo at McLean Mill National Historic Site on June 12. Graduates held their prom on Saturday, although things looked a little different due to COVID-19. See more on page A10. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Port Alberni 2021 grads celebrate prom with car cruise

Special event held at McLean Mill National Historic Site

The Port Alberni Bombers are one of the newest teams in the VIJHL. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Port Alberni Bombers to host first ID camp for roster spots

Roster spots for the Junior B team will be filled at the conclusion of the camp

Douglas Holmes, current Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District chief administrative officer, is set to take on that position at the Regional District of Nanaimo come late August. (Submitted photo)
Regional District of Nanaimo’s next CAO keen to work on building partnerships

Douglas Holmes to take over top administrator role with RDN this summer

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

Cowichan Tribes man Adrian Sylvester is worried that he was targetted by a trailer hitch thrown from a vehicle. (Facebook photo)
Cowichan Tribes man worried he was target of trailer hitch

Adrian Sylvester says no one has reported a missing hitch after one nearly hit him

Graeme Roberts, who was mayor of Nanaimo from 1984-86, died this month at age 89. (Photo courtesy Nanaimo Community Archives)
City of Nanaimo flags at half-mast as former mayor Graeme Roberts dies at 89

‘Giant-killer’ beat out Frank Ney in mayoral election in 1984

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read