B.C. Conservative Party in “dire straits” if John Cummins remains leader, professor says
The B.C. Conservative Party may be better off without embattled leader John Cummins, says one observer of the provincial political scene.
“If he stays on, the party is in serious, dire straits,” Hamish Telford told the Straight by phone ahead of the noon deadline on October 10 imposed by Cummins on dissidents to either toe the line or quit.
Rebels had scheduled a 4 p.m. media conference later in the day, and had indicated that they weren’t going anywhere.
The infighting has escalated rapidly in the days following the party’s annual general assembly on September 22—where Cummins survived a leadership-review vote—causing Telford, head of the political-science department at the University of the Fraser Valley, to view the B.C. Conservatives’ electoral fortunes in a different light.
“Last month, I would have said that…the Conservatives would be better off staying with Mr. Cummins,” Telford said. “But as of now, I think they might be better off trying to replace him, if they can do it quickly.”
Although Cummins may prevail, Telford said that he’s going to be “considerably weakened”.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if the dissidents have someone in mind or have been talking to people about who might replace Mr. Cummins,” the UFV academic stated.
Former federal Conservative MP Paul Forseth is seeking a B.C. Conservative nomination to run in New Westminster, and he won’t accept any suggestions that the bickering raises serious questions about the party’s viability in the next provincial election.
“That is a very easy criticism to make from the outside when you don’t see how well things are being managed inside,” Forseth told the Straight by phone.
Forseth and Cummins were both first elected as Reform MPs in the 1993 federal election under the leadership of Preston Manning.
“John is not perfect,” Forseth acknowledged. “I am not perfect. But John has resurrected the B.C. Conservative name and party, and he deserves the right to carry us into the next election.”