OK, paint me confused. John van Dongen has quit yet another provincial political party because his leader is inept and not worthy of his support.
“I am turning in my B.C. Conservative party membership. I cannot in good conscience, pretend that I could support John Cummins for a future premier. I don’t believe he has the capacity to do the job,” van Dongen spouted last Saturday, mere minutes after approximately 71 per cent of party members voted against a review of Cummins’ leadership.
Hmm? Does this make von Dongen honourable, arrogant, indecisive, or none of the above? Take your time because this is neither a trick question nor a time-limited option.
The Abbotsford-South MLA, first elected in 1995, originally appeared to be a popular and astute fellow.
Part way through his recent term as a sitting MLA, he became frustrated with Premier Christy Clark (welcome aboard John) and in a well-orchestrated huff, crossed the political floor. (I am going to avoid any suggestion this smacks a whole lot like the proverbial scenario of mice fleeing a sinking ship.)
This past summer, during a small Conservative rally in Kelowna, van Dongen made it abundantly clear he has zilch use for the leadership skills of Clark and holds her accountable for his Liberal mutiny.
At that same rally, van Dongen suggested to local Conservative supporters an alliance between Conservatives and Liberals would be a good idea—a coalition party to save the province.
(What he was really saying is anything is better than those horrible, evil NDP types. It smacked of 1970s and ’80s silliness).
He was later queried about the logic of his alliance suggestion since many Conservatives felt it was simply time to oust the Liberals—not join them. Was an alliance not akin to kissing one’s sister?
He sputtered when it was suggested, according to his rant, that all the Liberals had to do to survive in B.C. was get rid of Clark.
When asked what his strategy would be if the Liberals actually gave Clark the boot, he had none.
At that point, I wondered about his sincerity and loyalty to the Conservatives—or anyone else.
The MLA contacted me the next day to make sure that what I thought I heard was not what he really said, and down-played the notion that an alliance was the answer.
“Of course” the Conservatives should sally forth with their own army and attack plan, he told me.
Then last week, Sir John leaped off his Conservative horse saying he could not work with Cummins.
Granted, Cummins does not captivate my full attention. Certainly, he seems wishy-washy on some issues; however, in the premiership sweepstakes he is currently miles ahead of the former talk-show host.
While 71 per cent support may not be a cataclysmic endorsement, it’s fairly good.
Lord knows the next provincial election is not going to be a popularity faceoff between three adored and revered candidate studs. It will likely be a lesser of three evils scenario.
Hmmm? Haven’t we seen this before?
So, van Dongen is now much like a man without a country, pole without a flag, champion without a queen.
The question begs to be asked: Precisely who does van Dongen think is worthy of being premier—aside from himself?
I personally have no use for party politics, which is why I have no interest in entering provincial or federal politics.
However, I also recognize that if you want to play the game you have to play within the rules (stupid or otherwise).
Johnny wants to have his cake and eat it too. He thinks he may get a tasty slice as an independent MLA. Perhaps he will, but he will probably be about as effective then as he has been so far in his career. Then whom will he blame?
Oh, gee, wait a minute…take a look in the mirror.
I hate to break the bad news John, but the only party left to play with is the folks you hate the most, the NDP. And they don’t want you.
Of course, there is still the very real option that van Dongen may do a reverse flip yet again and head back to the floundering Liberals.
Apparently, he might attend the Liberal Party convention this fall, and possibly rejoin the party if Clark is no longer leader.
Why should such a statement surprise me or anyone else who attended his local rally here in the summer?
Besides, one has to wonder if the Liberal Party wants him any more than the NDP, though the old adage ‘Beggars cannot be choosers’ does comes to mind.
Yup, it seems van Dongen’s heart is in one place, his career planning in another, and his loyalty in limbo.
He wants to present the “honourable and honest” poker face, but I am not convinced it’s not simply a bluff.
I would like to somehow cheer you on, John, believe that you are really ‘there’ for the betterment of the province, but I’m sceptical. You are a nice man, no question, but I would not go to war with you.
All three B.C. political parties have weak leaders, with about as much charisma as an onion sandwich, but for goodness sake pick one, John—or go away.
In the world of provincial politics, reality suggests that a team of one can do diddlysquat.