Fonds RBSC-ARC-1829 - Ron Johnson fonds

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Ron Johnson fonds

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  • Source of title proper: Title based on the contents of the fonds

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1.12 m of textual records and other materials

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Name of creator

(September 30, 1951 - present)

Biographical history

Ron Johnson was born in Vancouver, British Columbia on September 30, 1951 and grew up in Burnaby. He graduated from Burnaby Central High School in 1969 and from the B.C. Institute of Technology in 1971 with a Diploma of Technology in Broadcast Communications.
Johnson first joined the New Democratic Party (NDP) in 1968, serving as the President, New Westminster and East Burnaby Young New Democrats, and volunteering on the New Westminster Federal NDP campaign of Clive Lytle. In 1969 he volunteered on the New Westminster NDP and Burnaby-Edmonds campaigns and served as a Young New Democrats delegate to the British Columbia NDP leadership convention. In 1970, he became President of the B.C. Young New Democrats, and served as Chairman, Labour Policy Committee at the 1973 Provincial NDP convention. Johnson volunteered on numerous NDP campaigns throughout the 1960s and 1970s.
Johnson ran for election as the NDP candidate for Federal Member of Parliament in the riding of Vancouver Centre in 1972, 1974, 1979 and 1980. Although defeated each time, the 1980 race was the closest when he came in second with 31.77 percent of the vote to Progressive Conservative candidate Pat Carney’s 35.77 percent. In 1986, Johnson also ran for election as the NDP Provincial candidate for the riding of Burnaby-Edmonds, losing a close race with 46.57 percent of the vote to Social Credit candidate David Mercier’s 48.23 percent.
Johnson served as Communications Director for the B.C. Federation of Labour in the 1970s and for the B.C. Provincial Council of Carpenters in the 1980s. In 1984, he served as Chair, for the B.C. NDP federal campaign committee. Johnson served as a volunteer at the Socialist International Congress held in Vancouver in 1987. In the mid-1980s Johnson served as the Chair of the Federal NDP Resolutions Committee and a member of the International Affairs Committee. In 1988, he coordinated the NDP federal election campaign in British Columbia, which resulted in the election of 19 NDP Members of Parliament. In 1991, Johnson served as Communications Director for the B.C. NDP’s successful provincial campaign.
In 1992, Johnson founded the NOW Communications Group as a Vancouver-based advertising agency specializing in social marketing, union and public policy advocacy, and political campaigns across Canada. His firm handled several B.C. government accounts in the 1990s, including those of the B.C. Ministry of Health, B.C. Ministry of Education and B.C. Ministry of Finance. In addition to NDP clients across Canada, NOW Communications provided services to many unions in Western Canada and Ontario, notably the B.C. Teachers’ Federation, B.C. Hospital Employees Union, Manitoba Teachers’ Union, Manitoba Government Employees’ Union, Elementary Teachers of Ontario.
From 1990 to 2011, Johnson’s campaign communications and strategy work contributed to eight NDP provincial election victories in four provinces including British Columbia Premiers Mike Harcourt and Glen Clark, Saskatchewan Premier Lorne Calvert, Manitoba Premiers Gary Doer and Greg Sellinger and Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter. Johnson served as a key strategist on early campaigns for federal NDP leader Jack Layton, and was part of the Working Families campaign that helped defeat Conservative Premier Ernie Eves in Ontario. Many of the television advertisements from these campaigns won Gold “Pollie” Awards for excellence from the American Association of Political Consultants, which recognize leaders, innovators and exceptional work within the political communications and public affairs industries.
Johnson retired in 2009, but remains active as a volunteer campaign strategist and political activist having been awarded Honourary Life Membership in the B.C. NDP. From 2006 to 2014, Johnson served as Vice President of the International Association of Political Consultants. Since 2016, he has served as a volunteer sponsorship coordinator for the Vancouver South Africa Film Festival, which aims to present Vancouver audiences with feature films and documentaries that explore the culture, history and contemporary issues of South Africa.
Johnson resides in Vancouver, with his wife, Johanna den Hertog.

Custodial history

Scope and content

The fonds reflects Ron Johnson’s involvement with the New Democratic Party (NDP) predominantly from the late 1960s to the late 1980s. Records include materials related to Johnson’s service as President of the British Columbia Young New Democrats in 1970 and his own campaigns running as the NDP candidate for Federal Member of Parliament in the riding of Vancouver Centre in the 1970s. Records also include his collection of campaign and labour ephemera, predominantly from the 1960s and 1970s, and materials representing Johnson’s communications and strategy work on numerous political campaigns from the 1960s through the 1980s.
The fonds is divided into four series: B.C. Young New Democrats, Vancouver Centre Campaigns, Collected Campaign and Labour Ephemera, and Communications and Strategy Work.
Records consist of newspaper clippings, minutes, agendas, press releases, convention materials, publications, policy documents, correspondence, membership lists, photographs, campaign brochures, campaign buttons, campaign ribbons, name badges, drafts of speeches, labour and politics pamphlets, campaign posters, matchbooks, a plastic canvasers kit, bumper stickers, conference materials and the like.

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All records were donated by Ron Johnson.


The fonds was arranged by the archivists generally following the creator’s arrangement.

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General note

Includes the following photographs: RBSC-ARC-1829-PH-01 to 39

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Finding aid produced by Catherine Hall, December 2021

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  • English

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