BC Conservative leader John Cummins has issued an ultimatum to dissident party members who continue to agitate for a replacement: unite behind him or get out.
The showdown comes as more Conservative insiders are public opposing Cummins continuing as leader.
“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 said in a news release.
Those who leave by the deadline will be refunded membership fees and any donations made within the last year, he said.
Cummins said his dedication to the BC Conservatives is “unwavering” and that he fully intends to lead the party into next May’s provincial election.
“I’m not going anywhere,” he said.
Cummins cited last month’s 70 per cent vote of party members against a leadership review as evidence of a “solid majority” behind him, but the split in the party continues to fester.
A leaked letter sent to Cummins Tuesday from Allison Patton and Ariane Eckardt – the party’s constituency association presidents in Surrey-White Rock and Burnaby North, respectively – pleads for him to quit and give the Tories a new chance to win back voters.
In it, Patton and Eckardt say there are there are now 20 local presidents asking Cummins to resign.
“We want you to know we are not leaving,” they wrote. “But we ask, for the sake of the party, that you do.”
They’re also holding Cummins responsible for the “exorcising and excommunicating” of dissident Tories who they said have apparently been deemed “enemies” by party officials.
John Martin, the former Conservative candidate in Chilliwack-Hope, defected to the Liberals last month and the party’s lone MLA – former BC Liberal John van Dongen – quit the Tories after the AGM vote.
“This division has cost us our only sitting MLA and the possibility of having others who were ready to cross,” the Patton-Eckhardt letter says. “These missed opportunities cannot be undone.”
Party president Al Siebring said the leadership issue was settled last month and the party will run under Cummins in the 2013 election.
“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.”