Mending a centre-right split in B.C.

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      Vancouver’s condo king isn’t big on John Cummins and the B.C. Conservative party.

      Real-estate marketer Bob Rennie thinks that it’s “irresponsible” of the party to be “splitting up the free-enterprise vote”. “I think that the Conservatives right now are being selfish and opportunistic,” Rennie told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview.

      Rennie, a prominent supporter of Premier Christy Clark when she sought the leadership of the ruling but beleaguered B.C. Liberal Party, believes that the province cannot afford a divided centre-right vote, especially in these “tough economic times”. He said he’s afraid that this will allow the NDP to walk right up the middle.

      “We can’t just lash out and be emotional,” Rennie said. “What we should be doing is working with the Liberal party and working together to stabilize it and having those tough talks with Christy and the Liberal party and make sure that we can satisfy the conservative side and liberal side. But now is not the time to break up the household.”

      Cummins is having none of it, primarily because he doesn’t agree that the NDP is really benefiting from the split on the right. “If you look at the polls over the last year, the NDP hasn’t grown,” Cummins told the Straight by phone. “They’ve grown a point or two. That’s within the margin of error. The B.C. public is not flocking to the NDP. And they’re not likely to.”

      Pollster Mario Canseco said that Cummins has a point. The vice-president of Angus Reid Public Opinion noted that although the NDP remains on top of the last survey conducted by his company, the party hasn’t improved from the last provincial election.

      “The NDP got 42 percent of the vote in the 2009 election and still finished in second place,” Canseco explained in a phone interview with the Straight. “Right now they’re at 43 percent, so it’s roughly the same.”

      According to Canseco, the highest that Angus Reid had the NDP in its series of polls since August 2009 was 49 percent. That was in the period before the unpopular Gordon Campbell stepped down as B.C. Liberal leader in November 2010.

      Voter support for the B.C. Conservatives has increased from a mere seven percent in August 2009 to 23 percent. They are now tied for second place with the B.C. Liberals, based on Angus Reid survey results released on April 2.

      It’s a momentum that gives Cummins a lot of confidence. He doesn’t believe that his party is just going to play a spoiler’s role in the next election, scheduled in May, 2013.

      “The public is looking for an honest option,” Cummins said. “They’re tired of the Liberals because of their dishonesty. And they’re afraid of the NDP because of their incompetence when it comes to managing the economy. That’s why B.C. Conservatives are doing as well as they have.”

      Cummins, a former Reform and, eventually, Conservative MP, didn’t pass up a chance to take a jab at the federal Liberals. That’s the camp that Clark has long been associated with.

      “There’s no entitlement in a democracy to governance,” Cummins said. “Like the federal Liberals have this sense that they’re Canada’s national governing party. And it didn’t matter what they did, people should support [it]. They’re sitting there in Ottawa, and they’re still stunned that somehow or other they’re the third party, not understanding that the reason they’re the third party was that they couldn’t deal honestly with the Canadian public. And we’re in the same situation here in British Columbia.”

      But Cummins has to do a better job convincing an increasingly worried centre-right constituency that it has a winner in the B.C. Conservative Party.

      Like Rennie, business figure Mark von Schellwitz holds that it doesn’t make sense for the two parties on the right to split the vote. The chair of the Coalition of B.C. Businesses and Western Canada vice-president of the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association would like to see the B.C. Liberals and Conservatives working together.

      “Policy-wise, I don’t think they’re a lot different,” von Schellwitz told the Straight by phone. “And, certainly, it would be in their best interest to merge.”



      Tom Birch

      Apr 12, 2012 at 5:35am

      People who only care about splitting the vote should do something about it. Vote BC Conservative

      Ron S.

      Apr 12, 2012 at 6:56am

      “Policy-wise, I don’t think they’re a lot different,” von Schellwitz told the Straight by phone. “And, certainly, it would be in their best interest to merge.” There you have it in a nutshell ladies and gentlemen. There is no difference between the LIbERalS or the CONServatives. You're voting for the same bunch of crooks if you vote for them.

      True colours

      Apr 12, 2012 at 8:52am

      Behind those emo glasses and the veneer of culture bought through purchasing other peoples art is another banal neocon.


      Apr 12, 2012 at 9:41am

      Multi-millionaire Bob Rennie with his personal private art gallery in Chinatown may like the way things are but the rest of us are tired of the lies and corruption and want change. I won't be voting for the Conservatives but its good that voters have a legitimate alternate to the past their expiry date BC Liberals.

      Dan Clay

      Apr 12, 2012 at 11:54am

      BOB , I believe, does not buy from local BC artists, and that makes me angry,,its about status and value of the art, and is corporate all the way,,he and his supporters and his support of Christy, with the highest rate of childhood poverty from too many tax cuts to his 1%, makes me think Bob has lost touch with his higher consciousness, and the humanity that comes from being in touch , (with that part we all have) ,with your higher self..shame on you...


      Apr 12, 2012 at 12:12pm

      Isn't rich to hear Bob Rennie say “tough economic times”?


      Apr 12, 2012 at 12:19pm

      tired of all this "free enterprise" bs being trotted out, the libs and cons are big business, pro-corporate neo-cons, who couldn't give a shit about small business, the environment, minimum wage slavery. They are worried for the well being of their own fat rumps, lets have a piece!


      Apr 12, 2012 at 1:06pm

      It may not be the time to break up the household or reveal the truth, but when I was a whole lot younger I learned a quick rhyme:
      LIberal -Tory,
      Same old story
      And I know full well, they don't speak for me!

      Thanks Bob

      Apr 12, 2012 at 2:10pm

      This vague unity plea announcement, and the "well, the way things are going..." response from sundry conservatives, business types, and pollsters, has informed me that the official, supported, public merger talk machine is now online and fully operational.

      I've seen through the looking glass people, and the truth... is nauseatingly predictable. Same old BC bullshit: rich folks changing labels to stay in power, with a healthy deluxe pump of energy interest pressure pushing things ahead full steam.

      This time, though, they've got their thinking caps on, and they're avoiding a split while they still, unquestionably, control the timing of the election. No one is forcing their hand, of course, with the BC NDP looking like the out-of-touch union appendage that they are, waiting for the roulette wheel to stop with crossed fingers, while muttering promises of change and good governance to the hostile media.

      If Cummins gets in post-merger, that pipeline is on, that being the primary objective of the dark cabal. Prisons, too... a good place for developers to make money with the real estate market flattening out right now, and a nice carrot for their cooperation. I imagine that, if all goes "well" in the coming months, the election will happen a good deal earlier to facillitate the time dependent pipeline action, before y'all get too ornery.

      We can then blame the conservative voter, blood on his hands, and he'll harden his resolve, securing that base for future elections, and driving forward the program of Canadian division, to the delight of those few involved in the sale of this now beleaguered American protectorate and Wal-mart of natural resources to the scoundrels of the world.


      Apr 12, 2012 at 2:52pm

      after hearing so much debate about a Liberal-NDP merger, it's curious to now hear talk of a Liberal-Conservative joining. whichever way they decide to go will be most revealing about their true stance.