In spite of being asked to step down as the leader of the BC Conservative Party, John Cummins has made it clear in an ‘ultimatum issued to the dissidents’ that he will remain in his current position and will lead the party into the next general election,
He declared his commitment to take his party to an historic victory in the 2013 provincial general election.
On Tuesday, two party organizers issued a formal call for Cummins to resign, saying he had lost the confidence of almost half of the party’s constituency association presidents.
“Our letter is the result of a groundswell of (constituency association) presidents who did not know each other, but found each other by circumstance and discovered a common theme in the shortcomings of your leadership,” read a letter to Cummins written Tuesday by Allison Patton, president of the Surrey-White Rock constituency association, and Ariane Eckardt, president of Burnaby North.
They are angry about what they consider the shabby treatment of MLA John van Dongen at the AGM, who promptly quit the party.
“The division that has occurred within the B.C. Conservatives has occurred under your watch. This division has cost us our only sitting MLA (John van Dongen) and the possibility of having others who were ready to cross,” it continued, not outlining what MLAs may also have been ready to join the party.
Cummins on the other hand said, “I am unwavering in my dedication to the BC Conservatives, and fully intend to lead my party into the next general election,” he said.
He also told party dissidents they had two days to either get in line or resign their membership in the BC Conservative Party.
“Those few but vocal party members who are critical of my leadership and do not support me have until 12:00 noon, Wednesday, to either get on-side or quit our party and join another.”
Cummins also said that the BC Conservatives would refund the membership fees of any person who quit the party by the deadline, and also return any financial donations made within the last year.
The BC conservative party announced that the number of resignations of active party members by the Wednesday October 10, 2012 12:00pm deadline was 14.
The BC Conservatives also announced that the number of new memberships received and processed from September 3, 2012 was 381.
“Since I became leader of the BC Conservatives in the Spring of 2011, our party has risen substantially in public opinion polls, and we have recruited outstanding individuals who will represent the party in the May 14, 2013 general election.
“Importantly, at our party’s annual general meeting on September 22, a solid majority – more than 70 per cent – of members voted against a review of my leadership.
“Consequently, I foresee no circumstances under which I would not be leading the BC Conservatives to victory next May.”
Al Siebring, President of the BC Conservatives, said that while the party encouraged open discussion and a diversity of opinion, the leadership issue had been settled by party members at the annual general meeting.
“We are going to contest the 2013 general election under John’s leadership,”said Siebring. “I simply will not allow our party to be distracted by a handful of dissidents who will not abide by the majority’s decision, and personally will take all appropriate measures after noon Wednesday to ensure that we are united behind our leader.”
Dissidents meanwhile set their own deadline for Cummins to step down, saying he has to go if the party is to recover from its recent slide and pose a viable alternative to the BC Liberals and NDP in next May’s provincial election.
But just as Cummins has been unable to silence the dissenters, it’s not clear how they can force the leader out if he doesn’t leave voluntarily.