Cummins steps down as BC Conservative leader

After 24 years in politics, John Cummins has plenty of catching up to do on his South Langley property.

BC Conservative Party leader John Cummins held his 14-month-old granddaughter Marlee Jensen during a meet and greet at the party headquarters in Langley in December.

BC Conservative Party leader John Cummins held his 14-month-old granddaughter Marlee Jensen during a meet and greet at the party headquarters in Langley in December.

After more than 24 years of political involvement, John Cummins wants some time to catch up with his day-to-day chores.

He spoke to The Times on Thursday morning, while installing water and electrical lines to the barn on his South Langley property. It’s a project he’s been meaning to do for two years — but politics got in the way.

“It’s time to stop running extension cords and carrying buckets of water to the barn,” he said.

On Thursday night, he delivered a letter of resignation as party leader to the BC Conservative Party executive, and stepped away from a position he has held for just over two years.

Cummins first served on the Reform Party’s executive in 1989. In 1993, he was elected Reform MP for Delta, as the party swept the Progressive Conservatives and NDP out of many B.C. seats, and the country turned to the Liberals under Jean Chretien. He remained Delta MP until the last federal election in 2011, and served as a reform, Canadian Alliance and then Conservative MP.

For the past two years, he was busy rebuilding the BC Conservatives who, for a period last year, were registering at about 20 per cent in opinion polls. However, by the time election day rolled around, the party ended up with just under five per cent of the vote total. Cummins came third in the Langley riding, won by Liberal MLA Mary Polak.

“The last two years have been pretty intense,” he said. “There has been a lot of travel, and everything else came second (to politics).

“I enjoyed the challenge, and it was something that was worth doing. I still think there is a place for the BC Conservatives, despite the election result. The Liberals did not so much win the election, as the NDP lost it.

“I don’t think there’s any public confidence in the Liberals. Over the next year, there will be revelation after revelation, and as time goes by there will be a lot of unhappiness with them.

“The NDP took a beating and lost a lot of their own supporters. They walked away from the working guy.”

Cummins would like to see the Conservatives follow the role model laid down by longtime premier W.A.C. Bennett, whose vision was to build the province’s economy without kowtowing to big business or labour interests.

Cummins plans to remain living in Langley and hopes to get more involved in the community, and also spend more time with his family and friends. And he plans to catch up on his projects — he’s also planning to do some fencing this summer.”