B.C. Conservative Party leader John Cummins speaks to supporters during the opening of Vernon-Monashee candidate Scott Anderson’s campaign office in downtown Vernon Monday.

B.C. Conservative Party leader John Cummins speaks to supporters during the opening of Vernon-Monashee candidate Scott Anderson’s campaign office in downtown Vernon Monday.

Cummins promotes change in election

B.C. Conservative leader John Cummins promises a platform of change

B.C. Conservative leader John Cummins promises a platform of change.

And not just change for the sake of change.

“It’s the kind of change British Columbians want,” said Cummins, 71, leader of the provincial Conservatives who was in the North Okanagan on Monday.

“We are a very positive alternative for B.C. We’re not just out there slagging the Liberals for mismanagement of our government’s finances. It’s true they deserve to be slagged, they increased the debt as much as the NDP did during their terms in office.

“We’re better than that. We have to show that we are a thoughtful and principled alternative. That’s the job before us; let the folks know that we do have options, that we will address issues of concern to them and we promise integrity in government.”

Cummings, a 17-year MP from the Delta-Richmond East riding for the federal Tories before taking over the leadership of the provincial Conservatives, was in Vernon Monday morning to help Vernon-Monashee candidate Scott Anderson officially open his constituency office on 31st Avenue.

Close to 50 supporters came out to hear Cummings, who opened proceedings by telling people one of the first things the Conservatives would do as the government would be to do away with the carbon tax.

“The carbon tax is harmful,” said Cummins. “It hurts businesses, and hurts people who live in areas where there’s no public transportation. If you have to rely on your own vehicle in all types of weather, that carbon tax is punitive. We’ve committed to getting rid of it.”

Cummins took questions from the floor for close to an hour on a wide range of topics from the Kitimat refinery proposed by Black Press owner David Black (Conservatives are in favour of the refinery) to the film industry.

On that topic, Cummins talked about his Genie Award-winning actor/director son, Martin, who has cast his father and his parents’ home in his next production.

“I play a news reader,” smiled Cummins. “I guess I have a career to fall back on now if this doesn’t pan out.”

Anderson, meanwhile, was asked how he could make a mark against incumbent Eric Foster of the Liberals and Mark Olsen of the NDP in the local riding.

“We’re already making a mark,” said Anderson. “It’s been widely acknowledged in the media and on the blogs that this is a riding that we have a real shot of winning.

“In the history of this riding, when the Liberals first won, they won by 10,000 votes. That’s just gone down, down, down until the last election, they won by just 1,500 votes. That’s 8,500 votes gone that went to the NDP because people thought they were the only alternative.

“We think we can take those votes that went to the NDP and take a good number of Liberal votes. We think very strongly we can win this riding.”

Boosting that confidence was former Okanagan-Shuswap Conservative MP Darrel Stinson.

“I’ve run into a number of people who said they weren’t going to vote,” said Stinson.

“Now, because the Conservative Party is here, they’ve said they are going to come out and vote because you’ve given them that opportunity.”

Anderson and Cummins visited Lumby businesses Monday afternoon, and also held a meet-and-greet with village residents.

Cummins also acknowledged the effort of former Vernon Mayor and Conservative Party president Wayne McGrath.

“We wouldn’t be where we are today if Wayne hadn’t taken over the presidency seven years ago,” said Cummins. “Wayne is the guy who brought the party to respectability.”