John Cummins and John van Dongen political marriage was doomed from the start


The divorce is finally official, but the marriage had been on the rocks for a while.

Sometimes, couples are doomed from the start because they have so little in common.

And so it seems with the political betrothal last April between B.C. Conservative Leader John Cummins and Abbotsford South MLA John van Dongen.

The day after their shotgun wedding on the eve of two provincial by-elections, I wrote a column pointing out how far apart these two had been on aquaculture.

Cummins, who previously made his living in the commercial fishing industry, had been a vehement opponent of open-net salmon farming. Van Dongen, a former B.C. Liberal minister of agriculture, had been one of the aquaculture industry's greatest proponents at the cabinet table.

Meanwhile in the B.C. Liberal leadership race, van Dongen supported George Abbott, a former New Democrat who's considered more progressive than most members of his party. Cummins is one of the last people with sympathy for anyone whose politics smacked of federal Liberalism.

But like expectant parents, Cummins and van Dongen were looking forward to the arrival of their first B.C. Conservative MLA, John Martin, in the Chilliwack-Hope by-election.

Similar to many doomed couples, they expected that a newcomer to the family would bring them closer together, sustaining their relationship.

But Martin's political career was stillborn as the NDP's Gwen Mahoney won handily in Chilliwack-Hope on April 29. And Cummins and van Dongen were stuck together in an increasingly poisonous pairing.

Cummins must have had suspicions that van Dongen was an opportunist. That's how the B.C. Conservative leader has traditionally viewed B.C. Liberal politicians over the years.

It's one reason why his political ally, Vicki Huntington, ran as an independent, defeating Wally Oppal in Delta South in 2009.

Cummins also disagreed with the B.C. Liberals on numerous issues, including the carbon tax, the expansion of port facilities in Delta, and the way the province negotiated a treaty with the Tsawwassen First Nation. He can't have been impressed by the B.C. Liberals' "Can't Trust Cummins" website, which was designed to tear him down before he had a chance to articulate his positions to the B.C. electorate.

For his part, Van Dongen didn't believe Cummins had what it took to lead the party to victory. That was pretty clear in van Dongen's refusal to endorse Cummins as leader in recent weeks.

Now, the split is official with van Dongen announcing that he's parted ways with Cummins and the B.C. Conservatives. It came after a slate opposed to the leader failed to get elected to the board of directors.

Van Dongen has jilted two provincial political parties in less than five months and Cummins is probably feeling a bit foolish that he even got involved with him in the first place.

As Quiet Riot likes to sing, Love's a bitch.

Comments (8) Add New Comment
People have clued in to how Socreds infiltrate and stage a coup.
Rating: +5
Stay posted people. This is B.C. and I keep telling you - we do things different this side of the rock pile. Lots of pundits keep muttering about how bad things are going to be when Adrian Dix gets to be Premier but he ain't there yet. There never was a real Liberal or a Conservative party in B.C. They were (and are) shades of the coalition. Sometimes it was called Socred but under whatever name it is still just that. I prefer to use colours: Pink and Blue roll easy off the tongue and are easy to remember. This is B.C. and lots of water will run under our bridges (and wash a few out) before the next Provincial election.
Rating: +2
Of course it was doomed. That's what happens when one partner is only there to cash in and the other is too dull to realize it!
Van Dongen was obviously behind the attempt to usurp Cummins. And this was just the first of what will be many attempts by former Social Credit-BC Liberal powerbrokers to undermine and take over the BC Liberals.
Clark may not be able to see the fact the BC Liberal name is dust, but you can bet the money behind the BC Liberals can see it, and will work to find a new nest for their corporate agenda.
Rating: 0
He's just waiting for Stockwell Day to commit, then he will be like a Homing Pidgeon to wherever Stockwell purches.he was the first sign of trouble in the Liberal camp, kind of the "Canary in the Coal Mine"..
Rating: +3
@miguel Socreds? Hardly. It's the Fraser Institute Faction who like to disguise their National Socialist identity by taking over other parties. BC Social Credit bore little resemblance to the original social credit ideology. Then, taking over the BC Liberal Party, they've run it into the ground too. Abandoning ship, these parasites seem to have set their sights on the BC Conservative Party. We'll see if they succeed in attaching themselves to a new host.
Rating: +5
John Martin has bailed on the GOP, I mean, BC conservs as well. He will run for the riding as a libereal whom he shredded in last byelection
Rating: 0
It seems that most of the right-wing-Socred-Liberal-Conservative (whatever-you-call-them) powerbrokers have given up committing themselves to our patented BC right-wing coalition until after the next election i.e. they're just going to get ready to profoundly trash the next NDP government, no matter what it does, while remaking the next governing party.
Rating: -4
Maybe many of us (me, West End) can end up on a List Independence Coalition. Like a Lijst Fortuyn, Lijst Van Dongen.
Rating: +1
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