New Democrat MP Gord Johns was officially sworn into office Saturday afternoon in Ottawa, where he was appointed to serve as the critic for small business and tourism in the NDP shadow cabinet.
“It was pretty cool to be honest,” Johns told The NEWS from Ottawa Saturday, hours after being sworn in. “It was really exciting to partake in history, signing in the book along with every other Member of Parliament since the beginning of Confederation. What an honour to join the likes of my predecessors.”
Johns, who represents the Courtenay-Alberni riding that includes Parksville Qualicum Beach, said he’s been on the go since he was elected to office Oct. 19 with 38.1 per cent of the popular vote.
“It’s been extremely busy and certainly it’s a big adjustment,” he said. “It feels like it’s still at the pace of the campaign.” But Johns has hit the ground running.
“We had the tragedy in Tofino literally the first week in and right away I went back to the West Coast to support the community so it’s been a mixed bag.”
During the last few weeks, Johns has been through orientation, which he describes as “boot camp for MPs” where he learned the ropes of everything from finances to human resources to security.
During orientation, Johns said he also heard from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau who encouraged MPs to work across party lines and hold government accountable.
“Everything has a learning curve and this job is no different than any other job,” he said. “There’s a great deal of responsibility.”
But because the Courtenay-Alberni riding is new as of this year, Johns said he doesn’t have constituency offices to take over. He said he’s currently in the midst of hiring staff and setting up constituency offices in the riding.
While he said it’s too early to confirm, he said he’s hoping to set up offices in Parksville, Courtenay and the Alberni Valley.
“Some colleagues have told me it’s taken six to nine months to set up their offices but we expect to be much quicker than that, we’re hoping to have offices set up by mid-February,” he said.
Johns said the last month has been so chaotic he doesn’t even have an office on Parliament Hill yet.
“In the riding I’m just working from home and I’m out in the community whenever I possibly can be, I haven’t had a day off since this campaign started,” he said. “Here in Ottawa, I’m in a hotel room and meeting in government offices to conduct business, the schedule has been so busy it’s next to impossible to think about even using an office.”
To contact Courtenay Alberni MP Gord Johns call his office line in Ottawa at 1-613-992-0903 (activated Monday, Nov. 23) or e-mail Gord.Johns@parl.gc.ca.