Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Leadership Dispute Prompts Resignation but B.C. Conservatives Call for Unity

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Leadership Dispute Prompts Resignation but B.C. Conservatives Call for Unity

Article excerpt

BC Conservatives lose MLA in leadership fight


LANGLEY, B.C. - Even in the tumultuous world of British Columbia politics, the provincial Conservatives had a roller coaster of a weekend.

Weeks of leaked accusations, acrimony and innuendo came to a less-than-definitive end for the party as roughly one-third of eligible members cast ballots on a leadership review.

Of those, 71 per cent voted against a review for B.C. Conservative party Leader and John Cummins, while 29 per cent were in favour.

But his victory was short-lived, as the Conservative's only member with a seat in the legislature quit the party citing his inability to continue with Cummins at the helm.

"I am turning in my B.C. Conservative party membership," John van Dongen told reporters outside the Langley Events Centre, where 200-plus Conservatives were gathered for the party's annual general meeting.

"I could not in good conscience pretend that I could support John Cummins for a future premier. I don't believe he has the capacity to do the job."

But van Dongen, who will sit as an Independent MLA, said he doesn't regret jumping ship to the provincial Conservatives last March.

"I was prepared to take that risk," he said.

The dispute centred around leadership style and a $4,000 a month stipend for Cummins, a retired federal Conservative MP.

Cummins described the vote as a procedural issue.

"My name wasn't on the vote. The vote was about process and whether the party thought a leadership review would be essential," he told reporters after a lengthy speech to members. "We're moving on."

Cummins did acknowledge there is some "upset" among those who were pushing for a review but said he said he didn't know what the issues were.

"I can't make heads nor tails. I'm not going to waste my time trying to. We've got an election to fight in eight months and that's what we're focusing on," he told reporters.

In an unfortunate turn of luck, the Conservative party banner behind him buckled and fell to the floor as he spoke.

Cummins is not the first Conservative leader to face dissent in the ranks.

A few years ago, police were called to a party meeting in the B. …

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