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.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

B.C. NDP’s throne speech speaks of benefits to B.C., says MLA Scott Fraser

Fraser agrees to meet with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs over pipeline

Port Alberni’s Old Puckers playing for BC Children’s Hospital

CFOX’s hockey team will make the long trek to central Vancouver Island for the game

BIZ BEAT: Get a head start on spring cleaning in Port Alberni

Chris Fenton walks across a desert to raise funds for ACAWS

2020 is another banner year for Port Alberni

Painted banners will be hung up in the Rotary Arts District this summer

Blair says RCMP have met Wet’suwet’en conditions, so barricades should come down

The Wet’suwet’en’s hereditary chiefs oppose the Coastal GasLink project

PHOTOS: RCMP call on kids to name latest police puppy recruits

This year’s theme is the letter ‘N,’ and 13 German shephards must be named

B.C., federal ministers plead for meeting Wet’suwet’en dissidents

Scott Fraser, Carolyn Bennett standing by to return to Smithers

B.C. mom’s complaint about ‘R word’ in children’s ministry email sparks review

In 2020, the ‘R’ word shouldn’t be used, Sue Robins says

New Jamie Bacon trial for counselling to commit murder charge set for March 3

The trial is set to start on March 3 at B.C. Supreme Court

Federal minister pledges to meet Wet’suwet’en chiefs in B.C. over natural gas pipeline

The Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs say they are visiting Mohawk territory

2010 leader John Furlong urges Vancouver to bid for 2030 Winter Games

VANOC said the 2010 games broke even financially

Pipeline dispute: Tories put no-confidence motion on House of Commons agenda

Conservatives say they have no confidence in the Trudeau government to end the rail blockades

Most Read