“It’s my view that if we can do well in the Peace, we can do well in other rural areas of the province,” he said. “If we can’t make our way here, then it’s going to be very difficult for us elsewhere, because I think this is the kind of area that should be receptive to a Conservative message, and for that reason, we want to do well here.”
Cummins said the small showing doesn’t reflect the support that the conservative values of smaller government and less taxes has in the Peace region, or in the province as a whole. He said he believes British Columbians are looking for a principled alternative to the governing Liberal Party that has been mired in scandals surrounding the sale of BC Rail and the failed implementation of the HST, for example.
“We’re going to stick to principles. We’re going to emphasize the fact that government in British Columbia has to get smaller and we have to use the tax dollars we have more efficiently and effectively,” he said.
He said his party has seen its support grow since the last election when it captured only two per cent of the total popular vote and did not elect a single MLA. He said the Liberal Party’s own polling shows the BC Conservatives with as much as 22 per cent support in the province as of this summer, and he believes that was a factor in why Premier Christy Clark did not call an election for this fall.
“There are now over 60 constituency associations throughout the province, our membership is growing and so is the fundraising,” he added.
He said there are many issues a Conservative government would address if elected, but he mostly spoke about the need to cut taxes and reign in government spending. He said the Liberal government likes to brag about lowering personal income taxes, but when you factor in other charges like the carbon tax or MSP premiums, British Columbians pay the highest taxes in Western Canada while earning less on average than people in other provinces. He said those policies are driving people out of the province at a time when the population and economy should be growing.
Cummins said a Conservative government would eliminate the carbon tax, which he says hurts residents in northern communities like Dawson Creek especially, and has not reduced the province’s carbon footprint. He said his party does believe environmental protection to be an important issue, but on the issue of climate change, he said the federal government should take the lead on policy prescriptions that do not put Canadian companies at a disadvantage with their American competitors. He added his party does not have a stance on the controversial Site C Dam project, but said they would listen to the will of the local people on that issue.
He was not very specific on areas of spending a Conservative government would cut, other than to say they would look to eliminate bureaucracy and find efficiencies across all areas of government. He said, for example, healthcare services should not be cut, but he said there are unnecessary administrative cost that could be redirected into patient care.
“There has to be room for managing the people’s money in a better and more efficient way, and I think that’s really the issue.”
Other commitments included hiring more prosecutors and sheriffs to make the justice system more efficient and effective, restricting contributions of corporations and unions to political campaigns, and giving parents more say in the public education system.
Cummins will be speaking in Fort St. John this evening.