“I felt like a Liberal – heading down the road next to an abyss and don’t know where I’m going.”
That was how BC Conservative leader John Cummins described a recent trip he made from the Coast in the dark and the rain. The story summed up what he feels about the BC Liberal government – they’re lost and heading towards disaster.
Cummins was in Clearwater on Friday, May 25, speaking to about 15 people at a public meeting in the Wells Gray Inn.
Originally from Ontario, Cummins has been re-elected multiple times as M.P. for the Delta-Richmond East riding. Last March he announced that he would not run again federally but instead would take on the leadership of the BC Conservative Party.
“The BC Conservatives are a growing presence in British Columbia,” he said. “We have a strong base and we’re growing the party across the province.”
Twenty per cent of B.C. voters who voted for Stephen Harper federally vote for the NDP provincially, he said.
“They’re not socialists,” said the BC Conservative leader.
He noted that 16 months ago the NDP were well ahead of the BC Liberals in the polls. The selection of Christy Clark gave the Liberals a bounce in the numbers, but now they’re in a dead heat with the Conservatives.
“The difference is, we’re going up and they’re going down,” he said. “The next provincial election will be between the NDP and the Conservatives.”
Cummins said he would like to return to the days of W.A.C. Bennett, when big mega-projects such as the Bennett Dam drove the province’s economy and provided high-paying jobs.
“The wealth of this province isn’t produced on Howe Street. It’s produced in places like Clearwater,” he said.
There should be proper environmental assessments done but also, people in resource-based communities should share more in the wealth they create, the party leader felt.
M.P.s and MLAs should put their constituents ahead of their party, he said.
“Why bother voting if the person you’re electing is just a trained seal?” Cummins asked. “We want the mavericks who are not afraid to speak out.”
He gave as an example a time several years ago when he defied his party leader, Stephen Harper (then the Leader of the Opposition) and denied unanimous consent in Parliament to allow a First Nations treaty to pass without debate.
Cummins said that in Mexico, before a doctor gets a license to practice, he or she must first work several years in a small community.
“It’s something that could be looked at,” he said. “Once people get into small communities, a lot will stay.”