The soon-to-be leader of the B.C. Conservatives is optimistic about the party’s fortunes.
John Cummins was in Vernon meeting with party faithful at the Pantry Wednesday.
“It’s time to get out and meet folks and find out what’s on their minds,” said Cummins, a former Delta MP who will become B.C. Conservative leader Saturday.
“British Columbians are unhappy with the choices they have. There is plenty of room for the B.C. Conservatives and our strength can only grow.”
There are presently about 2,500 members.
“Two years ago we had less than 200 members and one constituency association. Now we have 50,” said Wayne McGrath, party president and former Vernon mayor.
McGrath believes interest in the party is largely a result of Cummins coming on board.
“We are very fortunate to have someone of his experience and profile,” said McGrath, adding that many Liberals switched to the Conservatives when Christy Clark became premier.
“They tore up their Liberal cards.”
There doesn’t have to be an election until 2013 but there is speculation British Columbians will go to the polls this year.
Cummins insists election planning is already underway.
“We’ve set up a screening process for candidates. We will be ready to go,” said Cummins, who says the Liberals under Gordon Campbell lost touch with the public.
“They became a one-man show and the MLAs were nothing but trained seals. We are seeking MLAs who will put the interest of their constituents before the party.”
Among those meeting with Cummins Wednesday was Darrel Stinson, former Okanagan-Shuswap MP.
“We have to start getting out there and letting people know there is an option,” he said of the B.C. Conservative Party.
“They don’t have to hold their nose and vote. The government should be looking after its people.”
Stinson hasn’t ruled out possibly seeking the local nomination for the party in a provincial election.
“I would love to do it if my health allows me to,” said Stinson, who left federal politics because of cancer.
“If they can’t find a good candidate, I will step in. I will help in any way I can.”