B.C. VIEWS: Political spotlight falls on Cummins

Who is B.C. Conservative leader John Cummins? Let's get to know him

When familiarity breeds contempt, people vote to reject the familiar and see what happens. Or as one radio talk-show caller summed up his decision to climb on board the B.C. Conservative bandwagon, he knows two things about leader John Cummins: “He’s not Adrian Dix and he’s not Christy Clark.”

Cummins has about a year to show he’s earned his rising poll numbers.

So let’s get to know Cummins a bit better. He’s 70, and has an 18-year record as a Reform-Alliance-Conservative MP. His Ottawa days are mainly remembered for battling treaties and aboriginal-only fisheries, and for being the first Reform MP to take the MP pension. That pension pays him about $100,000 a year. Another legacy of Cummins’ federal record is his support for the harmonized sales tax. He supported Conservative legislation to enter into HST deals with any province.

Cummins said B.C. could have brought in the HST at a lower rate.

Cummins also endorses the proposed Northern Gateway oil pipeline to Kitimat. He applauds the federal government for moving to place limits on submissions to federal environment hearings.

The April 19 by-elections in Port Moody-Coquitlam and Chilliwack-Hope offer a chance for the B.C. Conservatives to present policy alternatives. So far they’re against gas taxes, against a second Metro Vancouver garbage incinerator, and in favour of fixing the “catch and release” justice system. Cummins will be going door to door in the Lower Mainland by-elections. He offers a telling anecdote about the last time he was door-knocking in Port Moody. The B.C. Liberals have suggested the B.C. Conservatives chose Christine Clarke as their candidate to capitalize on the premier’s name recognition. That wasn’t what Cummins and his previously unknown candidate found. “She’d say hi, my name is Christine Clarke, and the doors would close rather quickly,” Cummins said. Now she identifies herself as the B.C. Conservative candidate, then gives her name.