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Cummins retirement from politics a brief one

John Cummins - Supplied
John Cummins
— image credit: Supplied

Langley resident and departing Delta-Richmond East Conservative MP John Cummins ended his short retirement from politics Tuesday, by announcing he plans to seek the leadership of the B.C. Conservative party.

Cummins told The Times he and his family moved to a new home on 4 Avenue last summer to accommodate a daughter’s love of horses.

He hasn’t decided whether he will run against either Liberal incumbent in Langley if he wins the Conservative leadership.

“We’re open to that,” Cummins said.

“[But] we haven’t made a determination yet. We’ll just wait and see.”

Cummins opened his campaign for the provincial Tory leadership with a Vancouver speech that described choosing between the ruling Liberals and rival New Democrats as a choice between “airline food and hospital food.”

He attacked the Liberals for “catering to lobbyists and corporate donors” and the NDP for being “at the beck and call of the big union bosses that run the public service.”

A Conservative government with him at the helm would ban political contributions from big business and unions, Cummins said.

“If a party cannot raise money from the voters, it has no business representing them in the legislature.”

Cummins called new premier Christy Clark “just a carbon copy of Gordon Campbell. Same arrogance, same disdain for the people.”

As for the NDP: “They haven’t had a new idea since Dave Barrett was premier,” Cummins said.

Cummins said he has spoken with Delta South independent MLA Vicki Huntington, a personal friend, about joining the provincial Conservatives if he wins the leadership.

He said he told Huntington that she was elected an independent and should remain one until an election is called. Then, “if you like what you see” he said, he would love to have her join the party.

“The choice is all hers,” Cummins told The Times.

He dismissed suggestions by some observers that a resurgent provincial Conservative party would divide the free-enterprise vote in B.C. and help the NDP.

“Liberals have been holding our votes hostage for too long,” Cummins said.

The fact that 48 per cent of the B.C. electorate didn’t bother voting in the last campaign shows there is an opening for an alternative, he added.

Earlier this month, Cummins announced he was giving up federal politics after 18 years as the Member of Parliament for Delta and Richmond.

During those years, the 69-year-old married father of four became known for his blunt criticism of so-called “race-based” fishing policies that he said unfairly favored First Nations over other fishermen.

Before entering politics, Cummins worked in the pulp and paper industry in Ontario, the oil fields of Alberta, and on the construction of the Bennett hydroelectric dam in northern B.C.

He was a teacher for 15 years and a commercial fisherman for over 20.

He was one of a wave of Reform MPs elected in 1993, in the pivotal election that decimated the federal Progressive Conservatives, who had governed under Brian Mulroney and Kim Campbell, and brought Jean Chretien to power.

Cummins was one of the few original Reform MPs remaining in Ottawa.

The BC Conservative party will hold its leadership vote on May 28 in Surrey. So far, Cummins is the only reported candidate.

The Cummins campaign has a website at http://cumminsforbc.ca/

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