A small group of disgruntled B.C. Conservative Party members, who want to oust party leader John Cummins, are proving to be a “distraction” for the party as it prepares for next May’s provincial election, says the secretary of the Kelowna-Lake Country constituency association.
Doug Machan, who is part of a slate of Cummins’ supporters running for provincial positions at this weekend’s annual general meeting in Langley, said he believes a vote being held among party members will nix the idea of a leadership review.
“In my opinion (the ouster bid) is being led by a group of people who have discovered they could be out of jobs after the AGM,” said Machan.
H said he does not feel they have the support of enough party members to force the leadership review.
The bid to find a new leader is being lead by party vice-presidnt Ben Besler, the party’s current vice-president, and John Crocock, a director-at-large.
Machan said he believes neither has the support to oust Cummins or win the jobs they are running for— in the case of Besler, party president.
Under the old party rules that the Conservatives must follow for the upcoming AGM, a vote on whether or not to hold a leadership review has to take place. Ballots have gone out and many have already been returned, said Machan. They will be counted on Saturday. If 50 per cent plus one vote for a leadership review, Cummins would have to resign and a leadership contest held.
Following this AGM, the party will hold leadership review votes every second year.
With eight months to go before the next B.C. election, Machan said he does not believes the party has time to find a new leader and prepare to fight the election.
In recent weeks, Cummins supporters have been releasing lists of party officials that support him. As of last week, 10 of the 18 B.C. Conservative board members had joined a group calling itself the Friends of John Cummins. But the party’ only sitting MLA John Van Dongen has reportedly not been listed as a member.
Machan, who will run for a director-at-large position at this weekend’s meeting, said he is hearing from party members up and down the valley that they are “livid” at the bid to oust Cummins and at the timing.
Meanwhile, the party, which will be represented in the Kelowna-Lake Country riding in the next election by former Kelowna city councillor Graeme James, has yet to nominate candidates in either Kelowna-Mission or Westside Kelowna.
Each constituency association needs at least 200 members to hold a nomination meeting.
Machan said there are three people believed to be seeking the nomination in Westside-Kelowna and just one in Kelowna-Mission.