The B.C. Liberals are taking aim at B.C. Conservative Leader John Cummins with some election-style attack ads — even though the next election isn't expected until 2013.
The Liberal Party said Thursday it wants British Columbians to know who the real John Cummins is and is launching a radio ad and website to highlight concerns about the leader of the seat-less party.
The website calls Cummins an unprincipled politician who opposed the Liberal minimum wage increase while collecting a taxpayer-funded pension worth $100,000 a year.
The radio ad says Cummins voted New Democrat in the last B.C. election even though his riding ran a Conservative candidate, a fact Cummins has acknowledged publicly.
It casts Cummins as politically dangerous because he could split votes in B.C. that would allow the New Democrats to win power.
Liberal cabinet minister Mary Polak said the party simply wanted to let the public know more about Cummins.
"Really John Cummins is still largely an unknown entity for British Columbians and we thought it was time they knew who the real John Cummins was."
Amused by attention
Cummins, who quit federal politics to become leader of the B.C. Conservatives in May, said Thursday he's flattered and amused by the attention and said he must be hitting a nerve with the Liberals.
"We knew that we were scoring points with the public," said Cummins in an interview. "I guess at the same time we've been getting under the Liberals' skin and I guess that's good."
He said he announced publicly long ago that he voted NDP in the May 2009 B.C. election that saw the Liberals re-elected for a third consecutive mandate.
"It was a question of do I vote for the Liberals who have lied and deceived me or do i vote for the NDP who are simply incompetent," he said.
Cummins said the New Democrats mishandled the B.C. economy when they were in power in the 1990s, but the current Liberals have also mishandled crucial issues like the introduction of the harmonized sales tax and they should not consider themselves the only contenders for the province's free-enterprise vote.
NDP leader denounces smear tactics
New Democrat Leader Adrian Dix called the radio ad and website smear tactics and called on Premier Christy Clark to denounce the campaign.
"While I differ with Cummins on many issues, he should not pay the price of being smeared for entering the provincial political arena," said Dix in a statement.
But as recently as this March, the NDP launched an attack ad against the new B.C. Liberal Party Leader Christy Clark, calling her Christy Crunch, in an attempt to her as merely a copy of her unpopular predecessor, former premier Gordon Campbell.
Earlier this year, Premier Christy Clark had mused about a quick election, but she said two weeks ago that the vote will not be held until the fixed election date in 2013.
B.C.'s Conservatives, who once dominated the province's political landscape, have not won a seat in more than three decades, despite running candidates in every B.C. election since 1903.
Part of the reason for that was the rise of the Social Credit Party in the 1950s, which stole the Conservatives' traditional rural vote and dominated provincial politics for 40 years.