BC Conservative Leader John Cummins confirms he voted for the NDP candidate in his Delta North riding in the 2009 provincial election.
“I voted NDP because I had enough of the (BC Liberal) governing party,” he replied to a question posed at a Chilliwack Rotary Club meeting Friday.
He agreed after the meeting that the question was “probably” intended to hurt the party’s candidate in the upcoming Chilliwack-Hope byelection, but he welcomed the chance to clear up the issue.
“I looked at it as a positive because a lot of people in the audience are the same (free-enterprise supporters) as me,” he said.
John Martin, the BC Conservative candidate in Chilliwack-Hope, said such scare tactics are not going to push the riding’s small-c conservatives into voting for the BC Liberal candidate.
“The BC Liberals are trying to make people feel guilty and scared, that they owe them their vote,” he said. “They’re not defending their record, but scaring people that they have to vote Liberal or have this prospect of an NDP government.”
BC Liberal Throness pledged to “boldly defend” the government’s economic record when he accepted the party’s nomination on Feb. 4, but in his reaction Monday to Cummins’ admission he raised the spectre of an NDP government.
“Strange that (Cummins) would rather vote NDP than a free-enterprise party,” he said. “I don’t understand why a conservative would vote for a socialist party.”
“I want the people of Chilliwack-Hope to know that I have never voted NDP, and I wouldn’t,” Throness continued.
“I am a solid, dependable, consistent small-c conservative option for voters who believe in free-enterprise, for voters who don’t want to see an NDP government in this province,” he said.
Meanwhile, NDP candidate Gwen O’Mahony seemed to take the high road in her reaction to Cummins’ earlier vote.
“I think the way that Cummins answered (the) question by being honest and forthright will quell all the fear-mongering that the Liberals are trying to do,” she said.
O’Mahony said it’s also too early to speculate whether Cummins’ admission will possibly lead other conservatives to follow his example and vote NDP.
“As the byelection draws near … that’s when people start making their decisions,” she said.
But she also said it’s “too early” for the BC Conservatives to be “bragging” about drawing both NDPers and BC Liberals to their side of the political ledger.
“That’s a little cocky,” she said. “I don’t take any vote for granted.”
Cummins had said in a telephone interview Monday that the party is “clearly drawing voters from the NDP as well as the BC Liberals.”
He said 20 per cent of those who voted Conservative in the last federal election had voted NDP in the 2009 provincial election.
“They were looking for a place to park their vote, and didn’t want to vote BC Liberal,” he said.
Cummins said he was not aware a BC Conservative candidate was running in the 2009 election when he voted for the NDP candidate, showing how “ill-organized” the party was before he took the reins as leader.
So, his choice was voting for the BC Liberal candidate or the NDP candidate, he said.
“From a party point of view, one was not better than the other. I was not happy with the NDP either,” he said.
But he knew the NDP candidate personally as someone who had done “a reasonable job” as a municipal candidate and who had supported a centre-right group.