John Cummins gives his address at the BC Conservatives AGM

Cummins not surprised at Van Dongen departure

"If it hadn't been today, it would have been in the coming weeks," said John Cummins.

John Cummins wasn’t surprised that the BC Conservative Party’s lone MLA, former Liberal John Van Dongen, left the party following the decision by 71 per cent of voting members not to review Cummins’ leadership.

“If it hadn’t been today, it would have been in the coming weeks,” Cummins told The Times Saturday afternoon, as the party’s annual general meeting wrapped up at Langley Events Centre.

“Mr. Van Dongen hasn’t been happy with the state of affairs. He hadn’t endorsed my leadership. He had trouble working with the leadership of the BC Liberals, and now with the BC Conservatives.”

Van Dongen outlines reasons for split – see separate story

Despite the Van Dongen split, which attracted a great deal of media attention, Cummins feels the party is on a steady course towards the provincial election in May, 2013. He said the new board, which will be headed by Cummins’ supporter Al Siebring, a North Cowichan councillor, will work closely with members to prepare to contest elections in seats across the province.

The party has organized constituency associations in most B.C. ridings and has an active presence in many communities. It is setting up a provincial office in Langley City and Cummins said the new, smaller board will be a more cohesive group that will focus on the election.

Ever the optimist, he said the Conservatives, who barely registered in polling two years ago, can win government in the next election.

“In this business, you don’t aim for second,” the former Conservative MP for Delta said. “We are aiming for first place.”

Seibring is happy with the new board elected by the delegates. Most were part of his A Team group that backed Cummins’ leadership. He said group initially came together to have an effective board, but publicly came out to back Cummins after a group of dissidents within the party, who ran a slate known as the Friends of the BC Conservatives, made it their aim to have a leadership review.

“We will now need to build capacity in the party, build organizational charts and prepare for the campaign,” he said.

Siebring was also pleased with the results of the leadership review vote, pointing out that 1,104 of about 3,000 members voted. He sees the endorsement as being even higher than 71 per cent, saying often those who don’t vote are satisfied with the status quo.

 

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