B.C. Conservative leader appears to give up on a Tory win

John Cummins says his party is now aiming to hold the balance of power in a minority legislature.

B.C. Conservative leader John Cummins

B.C. Conservative leader John Cummins, whose party has slumped in recent public opinion polls,  appears to have given up on his belief that his party can form the next provincial government.

Instead, he said Tuesday, he would like to see a minority government with his party holding the balance of power.

“Realistically, we are looking at holding the balance of power in this election,” said Cummins during a stop in Kelowna to announce B.C. Conservative want to open beer and wine sales to  grocery and convenience stores across B.C.

He said while the Conservatives are not running candidates in 20 of B.C.’s 85 ridings, the party does have pockets of strength, including here in the Okanagan, in the Fraser Valley, northern B.C. and central and northern Vancouver Island.

He said he believes it would be in the best interests of British Columbians to elect a minority government and not give either the Liberals or the NDP a majority.

Describing the Liberals and NDP as similar in many ways—both want to increase personal and business taxes, he said—Cummins said his is the only party that would balance the budget and reduce spending. Liberal leader Christy Clark has run her campaign saying her party has already balanced the B.C. budget and reduced spending and will eradicate B.C.’s debt.

Cummins used the recent endorsement of Clark and the B.C. Liberals by former NDP cabinet minister Gordon Wilson as an example of how far to the left he believes the Liberals have shifted under Clark.

Wilson, who lead the B.C. Liberals to Opposition status in 1991, lost the leadership of that party to Gordon Campbell 1993 after it was revealed he was having an extramarital affair with then Okanagan-Lake Country Liberal MLA Judi Tyabji. Wilson and Tyabji quit the party to form the Progressive Democratic Alliance and was re-elected in 1996. In 1999, he crossed the floor to join the NDP government of Premier Glen Clark and was named aboriginal affairs minister. He was later appointed finance minister and even flirted with a run for leadership of the NDP in 2000.

Cummins said if Wilson is now supporting Clark, it shows how close to the NDP the Liberals have moved.