Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Conservatives don’t support party leader

Party in damage control mode as internal conflict drags on

The executive of the B.C. Conservative party in Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows is joining in the dissident movement aimed at kicking out leader John Cummins, saying they can’t work with him.

Thursday, the staff of the constituency association were supposed to join others around the province, saying they need a new leader.

The executive has reached the conclusion that they want to work with Cummings, “but have found it untenable.

“They found they simply can’t rally around John Cummins as he is now. He simply doesn’t listen to good advice and that’s the bottom line,” said Robbie Armstrong, president of the Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Conservative constituency association.

The hope is that as more constituency associations speak out, Cummins will take the hint.

Armstrong became constituency president in July and reached the conclusion a month later, “that indeed it would be in the party’s best interests for him to resign.”

Cummins was confirmed as party leader in August, when most in the party decided against a leadership review.

That was followed by a tumultuous Wednesday in which Cummins gave dissidents a noon deadline to say that they supported him or to resign from the party. Only 14 did so, while another 381 new members signed up during September.

But Armstrong said Cummins and the advice he’s receiving is too far to the right of centre to win votes in next May’s election. He added he’ll even have to decide whether the B.C. Conservative Party is viable in the riding and whether it’s worthwhile recruiting members and raising money.

“None of us wanted to do this,” Armstrong said Thursday.

“We would have closed ranks behind him, but he never reached out. It’s an incoherent message that’s coming from the provincial board as far as I’m concerned.”

Cummins, though, said in a release that the 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,” he said in a news release.

“Consequently, I foresee no circumstances under which I would not be leading the BC Conservatives to victory next May.”

If the party decides not to run candidate, the Liberals would fare better against the surging NDP because there would be no split in the right of centre vote.

Liberal nomination candidate for the riding Doug Bing agreed that the B.C. Conservative party implosion will help next election. “It’s certainly a positive step for the Liberal party.

“I think what they’re doing, they’re destroying their credibility with the public.”

Armstrong said advisers are taking the party too far to the right.

“We can’t sell it.

“Half of the active CAs [constituency associations] are in open revolt.”

It’s not that members have anything personal against Cummins, he added.

“He continues to exercise in my mind decision making that is not reflective of the majority of voters to the right of centre.”

Instead, the party needs to move to the centre, he said.

Armstrong said Cummins hopes that similar statements from constituency associations will make Cummins reconsider.

“We have to live with it until we can put enough pressure on him, until we can get him to realize what he’s doing to the party.

“It’s very fluid over the next 48 hours as to what’s going on.”

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