Nonunion builders' rep Philip Hochstein sees fundraising trouble ahead for B.C. Conservatives
If there was any thought that B.C. Conservatives were going to be a viable option for the right, that is now highly doubtful.
Philip Hochstein, president of the nonunionized Independent Contractors and Businesses Association, made this observation following events that shook the John Cummins–led party in recent days.
Cummins had to face down mutinous insiders demanding a leadership review.
Before the party held its annual general meeting on September 22, its former by-election candidate in Chilliwack-Hope, John Martin, defected to the ruling B.C. Liberal Party. During the Saturday meeting, its only sitting MLA, John van Dongen, quit.
“What happened at that convention made some people think, ‘Do they really have what it takes to be a party to run a government?’," Hochstein told the Straight in a phone interview Monday (September 24). “And the answer to that is maybe no.”
According to Hochstein, B.C. Conservatives are going to have a lot of trouble raising money because of this.
“If you don’t think the organization is capable then you say, ‘I’m not giving you money,’ " he said. “What happened on the weekend won’t give people who want to give money more comfort that they’re the right alternative. So I think that will hurt their fundraising.”
The ICBA contributed $11,000 to the B.C. Liberals in 2011, according to the party's annual report filed with Elections B.C. In 2009, the organization donated $13,138, and followed up with $11,200 in contributions in 2010.
Hochstein has been raising the alarm over the danger posed by the split in the so-called free enterprise coalition with the rise of Cummins’s B.C. Conservatives.
When Hochstein went to observe the party’s September 22 meeting in Langley, he found little to ease his concerns.
“John Cummins’ speech was not one that said, 'Let’s try to get the family together’,” Hochstein said. “He’s very critical of the Liberal party; he was very critical of the leader of the party. Because of that, he’s going to run. His party is going to have candidates in as many ridings as they possibly can—and that’s not helpful to the coalition staying together. He didn’t give any sense that he was looking to find a way to bring the free enterprise coalition together.”
For Hochstein, only one thing matters.
“Until the free-enterprise coalition is completely repaired, that’s the only good news that counts,” Hochstein said. “How it gets there and the steps along the way, unless it leads to that ultimately, that’s what’s important.”