B.C. Conservative Party Leader John Cummins
Former MP John Cummins was acclaimed the B.C. Conservative Party’s leader in May 2011.
He faces a tough road heading into the 2013 election, as the party hasn’t been elected to the legislature in decades.
In 2012, the party briefly held its first seat in the legislature since the 1980s when Liberal John van Dongen jumped ship to join the B.C. Conservatives.
The victory, however, was short-lived. In September of that same year, van Dongen resigned from the Conservatives to sit as an Independent. He stepped down just hours after the party voted against holding a leadership review, saying he couldn’t continue to work with Cummins.
Despite calls for his resignation and an ongoing public feud within party ranks in late 2012, Cummins stayed on as leader, choosing instead to turf rebellious party members.
Cummins served as the Delta-Richmond East MP for nearly 18 years, elected first as a Reform Party and later as a Canadian Alliance member in 1997 and 2000 and then a Conservative in 2004, 2006 and 2008.
During his time in office, Cummins — who owned and operated commercial fishing vessels in B.C. for several decades — served as the critic for Fisheries and Oceans twice.
He was a vocal proponent of the commercial fishing industry and was one of 40 commercial fishermen fined for illegal fishing over a 2001 protest over what they said were abuses in aboriginal food fisheries.
In March 2011, Cummins announced he wouldn’t be seeking reelection in the May federal election. He ran unopposed for leadership of the B.C. Conservative Party later that year.
Cummins bills himself and the B.C. Conservatives as the "common sense" choice, vowing to do politics differently and listen to voters instead of special interest groups.
He promises to balance the budget and rein in spending and Crown corporations, saying "no CEO of BC Ferries will be making a million dollars a year" on his watch.
After seeing a brief upswing of support, polls showed the party’s numbers dropping in early 2013. Analysts say the results suggest Conservative support in former party strongholds like the Interior and Northern B.C. dropped by as much as half their previous numbers.
Born in Georgetown, Ont., Cummins worked in the pulp and paper industry in Ontario and in Alberta’s oilfields before settling in B.C. in the 1960s, during which time he worked underground on construction of the WAC Bennett Dam.
He was a teacher in Delta for 15 years and has also taught in the Northwest Territories and northern Alberta. Cummins taught both Grade 1 and high school math.
Cummins has an MA from University of British Columbia and a BA from the University of Western Ontario.
For 20 years, Cummins has owned and operated two commercial fishing boats in B.C.
He is a father and grandfather and lives with his wife Sue in Langley.