AbeBooks.com. Thousands of booksellers - millions of books.
Feed on

BC Conservative leader Cummins: cow pie magnet.

BC Conservatives overrated as vote splitter for potential Lib supporters.

We exaggerate the potential of the BC Conservatives and their newly affirmed leader John Cummins to seriously cut into the voting base of the BC Liberals.

My experience is admittedly ancient, but in Kamloops in 1979, as a member of the Social Credit coalition, I shuddered when a Conservative entered the race. The election was sure to be close, and I didn’t need to see the right wing of my party (who weren’t happy with me anyway) turn to the Tories. In the result, I won handsomely and the Conservative had no impact. In our analysis, it became clear that much of the Tory support came from people who wouldn’t have voted if there wasn’t a Conservative to vote for. There is, then, the danger of overestimating the impact of John Cummins on the next election.

To make things better for the Liberals, Cummins has tripped over a couple of cow pies in the electoral patch and branded himself as a religious hardliner against homosexuality and abortions which had ceased to be issues until he raised them, Lazarus-like — except Lazarus recovered.

His strength is in the Fraser Valley, where the good folks are against sex lest it lead to dancing. These good folks don’t elect anyone except the occasional school trustee.

Missed chance at united effort

I am a long time admirer of John Cummins and his honesty but, clearly, he needed to satisfy the religious right in order to be leader. I had assumed, like many, that he and Chris Delaney and his BC First Party would find a common cause, then seek out Gordon Wilson to round out a centrist position.

Delaney is an interesting fellow. He has a great feel for gut issues, is well spoken and presentable. His BC First Party seems well organized, only needing formidable leadership, some money and luck to be a big factor.

Sadly, Delaney lacks the critical ingredient for success in politics — judgment.

He was, of course, quite correct politically, to oppose the HST.┬áHis mistake was twofold — getting involved in the recall initiatives, doing so with Bill Vander Zalm, and staying with him and the cause long after it was lost and, worse, forgotten.

Bill Vander Zalm is a good man, a likeable man and forgiving — that he speaks to me is eloquent proof of that. On populist issues such as the BC Rail privatization and the HST he is, as the ultimate populist, superb. He attracts almost hysterical support, except that support is for that issue alone. No one wants to see him be premier again or even as a power behind the throne. Delaney doesn’t understand this, and he accuses those who make this point to be holding a grudge against Gardener Bill. He hasn’t understood that people like me have no reason to hold a grudge and that the remarkable and laudatory fact is that Vander Zalm bears no grudges against the media that both made him and broke him.

Delaney, in sticking like crazy glue to the recall issue, is even more perplexing, since the public has quite rightly made it clear that they won’t recall an MLA just because he or she is unpopular. They see recall for what it was intended to be — a way to get rid of bad actors who have brought disgrace to themselves and their constituency.

Where is Gordon Wilson?

The hidden factor is Gordon Wilson. In spite of some very rocky moments, Wilson is admired if not liked. He has the understanding of B.C. issues others lack. He reminds me a lot of my old boss Bill Bennett, except he smiles more. Bennett is not a bad thing to be linked to, because like or hate him he was cool and efficient. Consider what we’ve had since Bennett retired in 1986.

Although I have no proof of this, I think Wilson would love to be back in politics, but is surefooted enough to know that getting involved with Cummins or Vander Zalm, if only by inference, is not the way to go. He also knows that he can’t resurrect his Progressive Alliance — it never died, because it was never truly alive.

In the dying days of the NDP, Wilson joined the cabinet and the party and ran for its leadership. My prediction is that if he gets back into politics it would be with the NDP, for whom he would be a formidable force.

It looked, not that long ago, as if there was room in the “centre” for a “third party.”

That moment has passed and it’s business as usual — the only force that can beat the BC Liberals is the NDP.

Leave a Reply