Conservatives brush off MLA’s resignation

Departure of only MLA, John van Dongen, treated as no big loss by Conservatives

The departure of their only MLA isn’t concerning local B.C. Conservatives.

John van Dongen, who represents Abbotsford, has turned in his Conservative membership card and will sit as an independent in the Legislature.

“It’s no great loss,” said Ian Tribes, the party’s Vernon-Monashee constituency president.

Van Dongen joined the Conservatives in March after quitting the Liberal government.

“He was not a philosophical conservative,” said Tribes.

“As a member of the Liberal government, he voted for the HST and the carbon tax which has hurt the province. I never understood why he came to us.”

Van Dongen announced he was leaving the Conservatives after a majority of delegates at the party’s weekend convention endorsed John Cummins’ leadership.

“Mr. Cummins and I have had significant differences of opinion regarding the direction and operations of the party,” said van Dongen in a statement.

“I could not continue to carry on as a member of the B.C. Conservative Party when I do not have confidence in the leader.”

Tribes is pleased that 72 per cent of the delegates stood behind Cummins’ leadership.

“It means we can stop the infighting and concentrate on getting as many candidates in place for the next provincial election (in May 2013),” said Tribes.

“It was settled at the convention. John needs to do what he’s been doing and that’s travelling around the province and getting our message out.”