John van Dongen leaves BC Conservatives


LANGLEY (NEWS1130) – BC MLA John van Dongen has resigned from the BC Conservatives after party members voted against a leadership review.

He cites poor leadership and the party’s inability to deliver as reasons for leaving, only six months after bolting from the Liberals to join the party.
He says he was frustrated that his 17 years of political experience didn’t seem to matter to the party.

“I never agreed with the decision by Mr. Cummins to appoint Randy White and Brian Peckford as the issue management people in the party.  John Cummins didn’t particularly care about how I felt because he didn’t ask me.”

White is a former Fraser Valley MP, and Peckford served as the third premier of Newfoundland.

The former Liberal says he realizes British Columbians might look at him as a bit unstable, given his party switches these past few months, but he says his past demonstrates he is a team player.

“I admit what it looks like but that’s fine. I’ve got a history of 17 years of working actively on a team.  I’ve been a cabinet minister for eight years. I actually know what’s involved in working on a team, but it takes a leader.”

A leader, he insists, that would endeavour to reach out to people like him, who have plenty of political experience.
He says the fact the party came in third in a recent byelection in Chilliwack demonstrates a serious lack of capacity.

Van Dongen will sit as an independent in the legislature.
Seventy per cent of party members who cast ballots during the party’s convention in Langley Saturday voted against a review.
A group calling itself Friends of the BC Conservative Party, led by current party vice-president Ben Besler, wanted members to vote for a leadership review.
Besler had raised concerns through emails about Cummins’ leadership style.

New party president responds to departure

The BC Conservative Party’s new president says he can’t really comment on why van Dongen felt undervalued in the party, but does point out Dongen did work on a policy committee, and composed the party’s agricultural policy.

“He left the BC Liberal Party, apparently because he didn’t like the way he was treated there. Now he’s left the BC Conservatives. Not to cast aspersions on the man, but I wonder if he can get along with anybody,” says Al Siebring.

And as for van Dongen’s assertion that the byelection loss in Chilliwack demonstrates the party’s inability to mount a successful campaign, Siebring says now is not the time to dwell on the past.

“I just want to move forward. I don’t want to focus on the past or whatever mistakes may have been made, or whatever noise happened in the media over the past three or four months. From here on in, it’s a new start, a fresh start. We move forward.”

Siebring stresses that 70 per cent of the party faithful voted to support Cummins’ leadership.

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