B.C. Conservative leader brushes off resignation demands
John Cummins also announces party finances healthiest in its history
B.C. Conservative party leader John Cummins is brushing off calls for his resignation, describing the demands as a lot of noise with no substance.
But the noise got louder Wednesday as a collection of constituency association presidents issued an ultimatum – saying Cummins must quit by Friday, or donations to the party will dry up.
Ariane Eckardt, the constituency association president for Burnaby North, says Cummins' continued leadership has resulted in potential party donors putting their wallets away.
"I have been told now several times that there are people waiting in the wings to get this party healthy again so that they can support us," Eckardt said.
But Cummins insists the party has thrived under his leadership, raising more than $200,000 in the first nine months of this year, leaving the B.C. Tories in the best financial shape ever.
"The party's fund-raising success under my leadership demonstrates that British Columbian's increasingly support our message of fundamental change in Victoria," he said in a news release.
He also says while 14 party members have resigned over his leadership, 381 other people have signed up as new party members since September 3rd, and the dissidents represent only a small number of people.
Despite the turmoil in his party, Cummins says he thinks things are going "remarkably well."
Cummins, who insists he will lead the party into the next election, initially gave those within the party who questioned his leadership until noon Wednesday to get in line or quit, but later amended the deadline, saying the situation was "fluid."
Last month, party members voted just over 70 per cent in support of Cummins' leadership and against holding a leadership review.
Hours after the vote, the party's only sitting MLA John van Dongen quit the party saying he didn't believe Cummins had the capacity to do the job.
On Tuesday, Eckardt and another local constituency presidents called for Cummins to step down.
"The time for Mr. Cummins to go is now, but yes, we are conciliatory as far as the rest of the party is concerned," Eckardt said. "We really would like this to be a viable party to take on the NDP in the next election."
Allison Patton, president of the Surrey-White Rock constituency association, also urged Cummins to resign.
"The timing may not be perfect but is required if we're going to move forward under the B.C. Conservative Party because under John Cummins, we are not going anywhere."
The most recent poll by Angus Reid put the Conservatives in third place with 19 per cent voter support, behind the governing Liberals at 25 per cent and the opposition NDP at 46 per cent.
But the infighting within the party is threatening to derail that, with many commentators questioning if the party is prepared to run the province if it can't manage its own internal affairs.
With files from the CBC's Stephen Smart, The Canadian Press