It’s just eight months before the next provincial election and the B.C. Conservative party is in trouble.
The latest sideshow in the party circus came on the weekend, when its only MLA, John van Dongen, quit over the leadership of John Cummins.
It was only last March when the Fraser Valley MLA announced he was crossing the floor of the legislature from the governing Liberals to become the first MLA for the upstart B.C. Conservatives.
But Cummins has been under fire from senior party members, who complain he is taking $4,000 a month income while he earns a rich pension from his 18 years as an MP with the Reform, Canadian Alliance and federal Conservative parties.
There are also grumblings the party is stagnant in the early days of the runup to the May provincial election next year.
But more than 200 members of the party reaffirmed Cummins’s leadership at the annual general meeting in Langley. The provincial Conservative leader has the support of Alan Forseth, a party regional director in Kamloops.
Defection of van Dongen came just days after John Martin, a former high-profile Conservative candidate in a recent Fraser Valley byelection, told reporters he is quitting to join the B.C. Liberals.
None of these defections are good news for the Conservatives, of course. But the governing Liberals are doubtless welcoming it with little-disguised glee, since it’s broadly expected that any vote for the B.C. Conservatives will come at the expense of the B.C. Liberals.
And all of this, by extension, will be disheartening for the NDP and its hopes of splitting the centre-right vote.
Dedicated political watchers in this province have seen third parties, including B.C. Reform and Social Credit, dissolve into squabbles among the few active party members.
Any success the B.C. Conservatives enjoy next May will come from a successful and secure leader with an established brand name, along with solid backing from a large number of members. So far the party has neither.
It has been working to establish constituency associations for every riding, including the two in Kamloops. But there is yet to be a whiff of a local nomination race, featuring credible local candidates with a history of community service.
The damage is done. If the party is to succeed next May, it needs to gain interest from the public for something other than its internal woes.
We Say editorials represent the viewpoint of The Daily News and are written by editor Robert Koopmans, city editor Tracy Gilchrist, news editor Mike Cornell or associate news editors Dan Spark and Mark Rogers.