MLA John van Dongen resigns from B.C. Liberals, joins Conservatives
John van Dongen is leaving the B.C. Liberal Party to join the B.C. Conservatives, the Abbotsford South MLA announced in the legislature today (March 26).
“I had hoped that there would have been renewal in my party and in government, but in the last 12 months I feel that has not happened,” van Dongen said in the legislature at about 2:30 this afternoon.
“Indeed, every week constituents question government actions and issues that I am not able to defend.”
Van Dongen cited what he called “serious unanswered questions” around the payment of $6 million in legal fees for two former political aides in the B.C. Rail controversy, and the recent cancellation of a naming rights agreement for B.C. Place.
“There have been other lapses in proper accountability and I expect more to come,” he said. “When more and more decisions are being made for the wrong reasons, then you have an organization that is heading for failure.”
Van Dongen concluded his statement by announcing he will now be sitting as a member of the B.C. Conservative Party. The move will make van Dongen the first MLA for the party. Traditionally, a party needs four members to gain official party status in the legislature.
“Looking forward, I will do what I have done for the past 17 years,” he said. “I will put my time, energy and talents to serve my constituents and the party that I believe can best provide British Columbians with a broadly based, credible free enterprise option in the next provincial election.”
B.C. Conservative Leader John Cummins welcomed the MLA to the party in a statement.
"John van Dongen is a man of principle and integrity, and I am delighted that he has joined BC's fastest growing party," he said.
“I am excited to work with John as we reach out to British Columbians and share our message of fiscal responsibility, ending the catch-and-release justice system, and reducing the influence of special interests in the political process.”
Van Dongen was first elected to the B.C. legislature in 1995, and has held positions including the minister of agriculture, and minister of public safety and solicitor general.