Question of the week: can a heterosexist, anti-abortion, anti-First Nations, NDP-voting malcontent who hates progress lead the B.C. Conservatives out of the political wilderness?
I sure hope not, but I fear B.C. Tory leader-in-waiting John Cummins could do a lot of damage in the attempt.
Cummins, who will be declared Conservative leader by acclamation at the party’s convention May 28, captured headlines in Victoria when he told CFAX listeners that sexual orientation should not be included as grounds for discrimination.
Cummins voted against adding sexual orientation as a ground for discrimination under Canada’s Human Rights Act when he was a perennial backbench MP in Ottawa. “I’m not a scientist, but some of the research tells me that there’s more of an indication that that’s a choice issue,” he said.
When pressed, Cummins said he believes people choose to be gay or straight. He apologized later at the urging of party officials, but it was a hollow attempt to backtrack.
As medieval as his views are, they represent just one element in Cummin’s portfolio of political paranoia. In the past he has told the Campaign Life Coalition that he opposes abortion under any circumstances. Further, he favours delisting abortion procedures from provincial medical plans.
In 2009, Cummins voted for the BC NDP. He made the staggering leap left because he hated everything the Liberals stood for.
His hit list of bad Liberal policy included: The expansion of Port Metro Vancouver, the upgrading of power lines in Tsawwassen, new rail and road infrastructure for the Gateway Project, the new convention centre, the run of river hydro projects and aquaculture.
He also lambasted the Liberals’ reconciliation legislation because it would “give about 30 yet-to-be created native groups aboriginal title to over 95 per cent of the province.” He hated the notion that “these groups will have veto power over development.”
A rational observer of the political landscape might scoff at Cummins’ potential voter traction. The sad fact is there is a significant kooky far right audience out there for Cummins’ poli-babble.
To identify this potential audience we only need to look as far as Burnaby where more than 250 citizens have been protesting the school board’s draft anti-homophobia policy.
Burnaby would be the 13th district in B.C. to approve a policy to reduce bullying of students who identify themselves as “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, or queer.”
Members of “Parents’ Voice” are offended by the policy’s definition of “heterosexism,” a belief that heterosexuality is “superior and the norm.” The proposed policy states that heterosexism “perpetuates negative stereotypes and is dangerous.”
My concern is that Cummins can capture the energy of such an ultra-conservative constituency and gain enough support from like-minded right wingers to split the free enterprise coalition, accomplishing something left wingers cannot do on their own … elect an NDP government.
This prospect is not lost on the Liberals. At their convention this past weekend, retired Tory MPs Stockwell Day and Jay Hill received a standing ovation.
Hill has blasted the “headstrong” Cummins for foolishly attempting “to breathe new life into another conservative party rather than working with Premier Christy Clark as the bona fide new leader of the coalition.”
Sadly, Hill’s admonition has not registered. M