The Liberal Party said Thursday it wants British Columbians to know who the real John Cummins is and is launching a radio ad and website to highlight concerns about the leader of the seatless party.
The radio ad says Cummins voted New Democrat in the last B.C. election even though his riding ran a Conservative candidate, a fact Cummins has acknowledged publicly.
The website calls Cummins an unprincipled politician who opposed the Liberal minimum wage increase while collecting a taxpayer-funded pension worth $100,000 a year.
Earlier this year, Premier Christy Clark had mused about a quick election, but she said two weeks ago that the vote will not be held until the fixed election date in 2013.
Cummins, who quit federal politics to become leader of the B.C. Conservatives, said Thursday he's flattered and amused by the attention and said he must be hitting a nerve with the Liberals.
"We knew that we were scoring points with the public," said Cummins in an interview. "I guess at the same time we've been getting under the Liberals' skin and I guess that's good."
He said he announced publicly long ago that he voted NDP in the May 2009 B.C. election that saw the Liberals re-elected for a third consecutive mandate.
Cummins said the New Democrats mishandled the B.C. economy when they were in power in the 1990s, but the current Liberals have also mishandled crucial issues like the introduction of the harmonized sales tax and they should not consider themselves the only contenders for the province's free-enterprise vote.
New Democrat Leader Adrian Dix called the radio ad and website smear tactics and called on Premier Christy Clark to denounce the campaign.
"While I differ with Cummins on many issues, he should not pay the price of being smeared for entering the provincial political arena," said Dix in a statement.
The radio ad said Cummins is dangerous politically because he could split votes in B.C. that would allow the New Democrats to win power.
The website is calledwww.canttrustcummins.ca.
Liberal cabinet minister Mary Polak said in a statement that support for Cummins could spell disaster for the province.
"In these economic times we need a government that will move B.C. forward and protect and create jobs," said Polak.
"We don't need to be going backwards. There's a clear choice; they can vote for the B.C. Liberals, the only free-enterprise party in British Columbia or they can go back to the disastrous NDP government of the 1990's by supporting John Cummins."