Juan de Fuca MLA John Horgan board Bus No. 61 on Thursday to talk to those he represents in the B.C. legislature. It’s a town hall meeting on wheels

On the buses

Juan de Fuca MLA John Horgan uses the transit system to find out what his constituents are thinking.

As the long line of commuters made their way onto Bus No. 61 on Thursday in downtown Victoria they were met by a familiar face and an outstretched arm.

“Welcome aboard,” the man with the boyish grin said. “I’m John Horgan.”

Yes. He’s that John Horgan: Member of the Legislative Assembly for Juan de Fuca and leader of the Loyal Opposition.

Riding the bus? “I’ve done it since about 2009, every few months,” Horgan said. “It’s one way I connect with people.”

Horgan catches the bus near his office at the B.C. legislature and rides all the way into Sooke. He then turns around and returns to his home in Langford.

“I sit on the bus and I say, ‘Hey, how are you doing.’ If they leave their ear buds in I leave them be. If they have a smile or even a frown and want to talk to me, we chew the fat,” he said.

Surprisingly, it’s not all about politics. It’s about the issues of the day, what’s up, what’s down, Sooke council, the roundabout, transit issues, even the Canucks. Oh, those Canucks.

His one-hour bus ride is kind of a fact-finding mission. He listens and hears what people are saying, and he uses the information to form his own opinions and to formulate interventions in the legislature.

Horgan has always found the experience positive and admits not everyone wants to talk to him, but in more than one instance, it has led to private meetings.

When Horgan was first elected in 2005, he would rent a hall, circulate flyers and advertise in local newspapers for a town hall meeting. Chances are, only a dozen or so people would attend and the meetings were often dominated by one or two people “who had a lot to stay.”

Horgan grew more and more frustrated by the process and looked to the bus as a way to meet up with some everyday constituents.

“So, I hopped on the bus one day and I found I was captive and they were captive. It’s been mutually beneficial, and people get their say,” he said.

He’s had some poignant moments, though.

One time, he met a young soldier in battle fatigues and he approached him. He talked for a longtime and discovered the soldier was soon heading to Afghanistan.

Several months later he came across a security guard at the B.C. legislature, who told him of his son who had returned from Afghanistan. Horgan was so happy for the man, he invited the security guard and his son to the legislature for lunch.

He was shocked when he discovered the security guard’s son was the same young soldier, he had met months earlier on the bus.

“It brought it all home for me,” Horgan said. “All these connections weave together.”

Horgan’s bus rides never include his staff and he said it’s easier to meet people now that he is the NDP leader because people recognize him. He’s not sure, though, that if he becomes premier in the future if he’ll be able to continue.

Even as NDP leader, he finds his time gobbled up. He expects that would increase twofold if he was premier.

But still, the public relations exercise is more than worthwhile.

“It’s an opportunity for me to be connected to the people I represent. And not always do I get good news. And not always do I get a pleasant smile,” Horgan said.

Just Posted

Royal Bay drama students help police train for emergency

Students helped train crisis negotiators by acting out scenarios

Victoria BC Transit driver taken to hospital after assault

Driver attempted to stop an altercation between two people on the bus

Almost 150 hectares purchased for parks in the CRD

Capital Regional District purchases two sites to increase park connectivity

CRD’s 2019 financial plan includes 23 per cent increase for capital projects

Housing, health care and wastewater projects included in 2019 plan

How a scrawny kid from Oak Bay bulked into one of rugby sevens’ best

Doing it for Dylan, Oak Bay’s Connor Braid at the top of his game

VIDEO: Restaurant robots are already in Canada

Robo Sushi in Toronto has waist-high robots that guide patrons to empty seats

Permit rejected to bring two cheetahs to B.C.

Earl Pfeifer owns two cheetahs, one of which escaped in December 2015

Real-life tsunami threat in Port Alberni prompts evacuation updates

UBC study says some people didn’t recognize the emergency signal

Care providers call for B.C. seniors’ watchdog to step down

The association also asks the province to conduct an audit and review of the mandate of her office

Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from B.C. roaster recalled due to botulism scare

“If you purchased N7 Nitro Cold Brew Coffee from Cherry Hill … do not drink it.”

Short list for new gnome home includes Parksville, Coombs

Five potential locations have been chosen by Howard’s owners who will decide Tuesday

B.C. man gets award for thwarting theft, sexual assault – all in 10 minutes

Karl Dey helped the VPD take down a violent sex offender

Baby left alone in vehicle in B.C. Walmart parking lot

Williams Lake RCMP issue warning after attending complaint at Walmart Wednesday

CRD land ideal for alternate route

Reader says old pipeline route best option

Most Read