Bad time for a mutiny

Internal power struggle threatens to erase gains made by the BC Conservatives.

If a “Friends of” group starts up to support you while you’re leader of a political party, there’s a good chance you’re already in trouble.

This week, a group calling itself “Friends of John Cummins” began issuing press releases, indicating support from several regional directors for Cummins, leader of the BC Conservatives.

The endorsements come amid an increasingly public dispute over what some in the party are calling “an internal matter.”

At the centre is a call by some for a leadership review in advance of next spring’s provincial election. Party members are currently being asked if they would support a review; results will be announced at the BC Conservatives’ annual general meeting on Sept. 22.

People on both sides of the debate suggest the discussion is a healthy part of a democratic process.

But clearly, with an election looming, Conservatives have better things to do than engage in a “healthy” debate over the qualifications of their own leader.

Like fundraise.

During the Chilliwack-Hope byelection, the Conservatives – and some pundits – painted the BC Conservatives as the next governing party of the province.

That argument will be hard to make again if the Conservatives can’t raise enough money to mount an effective campaign.

Certainly the Liberals – chief rival to any Conservative aspiration – are experiencing their challenges. But those have the more measured look of a party taking stock of its resources as it prepares for the fight of its life. Premier Christy Clark had asked her MLAs to make their intentions known so there would be enough time to secure replacements.

By contrast, the Conservatives’ squabble looks more like a palace coup.

Of course, both the Liberals and the NDP are well acquainted with internal discord. Leaders of both those parties owe their positions to membership mutinies.

The difference is those members had the good sense to throw their leaders overboard well before an election.