Just weeks after announcing his departure from federal politics, John Cummins declared his candidacy today for the leadership of the B.C. Conservative Party.
After serving for 18 years as a member of Parliament, Cummins launched his leadership campaign today (March 29) by branding himself as the “commonsense choice” for B.C. voters.
“The choice between the Liberals and the NDP is like a choice between airline food and hospital food,” he said at a news conference in downtown Vancouver. “They’ll both keep you alive—maybe—but not much else. British Columbians deserve a choice they are actually excited to vote for, not two parties they have to hold their noses to support.”
The B.C. Conservatives have been without a leader since Wilf Hanni resigned in June 2009, citing infighting on the party’s board of directors. A leadership convention will take place on May 28.
In launching his leadership bid, Cummins also announced a policy to ban all provincial political donations from corporations and unions.
“If a party cannot raise money from the voters, it has no business representing them in the legislature,” he told media and a crowd of supporters.
In a speech heavy with criticism of the B.C. Liberals, Cummins dismissed the HST as implemented in B.C. as a “tax grab”.
“It is fundamentally unfair, since taxes went up on hundreds of items that were not covered by the old PST,” he said. “And despite the best efforts of the Liberal government, the people will decide the fate of the HST in June.”
Cummins also focused on issues such as crime and small business in his speech, and called current provincial spending levels “out of control”.
“People are getting less and less for all that spending—an education system in disarray, a child services ministry riddled with problems, our police stretched too thin to fight gang and drug smugglers and long waiting lists for health care,” he said.
Cummins dismissed questions of whether the B.C. Conservatives could split votes among Liberal supporters, to the advantage of the NDP.
“We’re not concerned about vote-splitting, we’re concerned about getting the vote out,” he said. “If you look at the last election, 48 percent of British Columbians did not bother to turn up and vote.”
“If there is vote-splitting in the next election, it’ll be the Liberals that will be splitting the vote, not the B.C. Conservatives,” he added.
The 69-year-old politician was first elected as an MP for the Reform Party in 1993. On March 12, he announced he would not be seeking re-election as the MP for Delta-Richmond East.
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