Director: Most behind party leader Cummins
Kamloops’ regional director for the B.C. Conservative Party is downplaying reports of infighting within the party and throwing his weight behind leader John Cummins.
Al Forseth is one of a half-dozen Conservative directors who have issued a public statement of support for the party leader under the name Friends of John Cummins.
The move comes after several prominent party members have called for a review of Cummins’ leadership in advance of next year’s election. A leadership vote is proceeding, with results to be announced at the party’s Sept. 22 annual general meeting in Langley.
Cummins must have the support of at least 50 per cent of the party membership to keep his position and Forseth expects him to do quite well in the vote.
“There’s a couple of people within the party that, perhaps, are seeking to have different direction or possibly have different ideas, and there’s nothing wrong with that within a party,” he said.
“But, the majority of members are behind John Cummins and we’re moving forward.”
Earlier this month, the Province reported on leaked minutes from an in-camera board of directors meeting showing the relationship between Cummins and John van Dongen — the party’s sole MLA, who defected from the B.C. Liberals in March — was deteriorating, with van Dongen feeling “marginalized and ignored.”
Party vice-president Ben Besler has also called for a review of Cummins’ leadership, a move that resulted in a vitriolic email from Cummins’ daughter, Carolyn Cummins, who wrote: “A year ago you came across as young, inexperienced and incompetent. I now know my theory to be accurate.”
Van Dongen hasn’t publicly spoken for or against Cummins since, but Forseth believes the veteran Abbotsford-South MLA will remain with the party.
“As far as I can tell, he’s committed to the B.C. Conservative Party,” Forseth said “He’s indicated, it appears anyway, he wants to stay out of the fray and not influence things in any one direction or the other, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”
Forseth said reports of the controversy are “causing a few people to go, ‘Hey, what’s going on?’” in Kamloops.
But, he doesn’t see questions about Cummins’ leadership disrupting the nomination process in the city or scaring off potential candidates — of which he said there are at least two for Kamloops-South Thompson and one in the Kamloops-North Thompson riding.
The local nomination process is expected to continue through the fall in both ridings.
“We’ve got two weeks to our AGM and I’m sure by that point everything will be sorted out and forward we go,” he said.