The B.C. Conservatives are losing more internal support as a local constituency association says it's deregistering from the party.

"We do this because the party failed to make necessary changes to its leadership at the recent AGM to make itself relevant, capable, and deserving of British Columbians' support," Milan Kljajic, president of the party's Vancouver Kingsway constituency association, said in an e-mailed news release Tuesday.

The Vancouver Kingsway board had supported a leadership review of John Cummins at a weekend meeting of the B.C. Conservatives but that was voted down by a 71 per cent majority.

Shortly after, John van Dongen, the party's lone MLA, quit the party to sit as an Independent. The party has been hit by highly publicized internal strife over Cummins' leadership style.

Kljajic states that members who voted in favour of a leadership review were "slandered before the whole party membership" and were "subjected to abusive emails and other correspondence."

He goes on to call the party’s finances and organization “dismal” and describes the party leadership as diseased and dysfunctional.

Kljajic also calls Cummins’ advisors “Neanderthal has-beens” by quoting a constituency association board member.

Milan Klajic's press release:

Good Afternoon,

Today the Board of Directors of the Vancouver-Kingsway Constituency Association (CA) of the BC Conservative Party announce that we will move to deregister the CA at the earliest convenience. We do this because the party failed to make necessary changes to its leadership at the recent AGM to make itself relevant, capable, and deserving of British Columbians' support.

It is necessary for political parties to have some confidentiality. It is not necessary for any party to circumvent their own constitutionally created internal oversight and accountability structures. Party board members who supported holding a vote for a leadership review, required every year by the party's constitution, were treated in private with a ferocity that defies sense. After holding a vote at the AGM for a leadership review was approved, any board member who voiced their opinion that members vote "Yes" were slandered before the whole party membership, despite the fact that never did the Board resolve to support the "No" side. These board members were subjected to abusive emails and other correspondence. And their demonization as irresponsible, misbehaving leakers, spoil-sports, and frankly, traitors was how the party leadership held on to power at the AGM.

The party's administration, finances, and organization are dismal for an alternative that rivalled the BC Liberals in electoral support in opinion polls just months ago. But worst of all is the party leadership. Avoidance of due process, decisions behind closed doors, a total lack of transparency, and nasty emails to CA executives are just part of the disease and dysfunction. The appointment of advisors to the party leader are in the words of another CA's vice-president "Neanderthal has-beens no longer connected to the interests of present and future generations." He continued to say, "What we want in this party is the vitality of youth, of women, and culturally diverse people. We are a party of fiscal responsibility and vision."

While it is impossible to know exactly what these people behind the party leadership do or what positions they advocate because of the shroud of shameful secrecy that belies the party's inner sanctum, the departures of many high-profile supporters in recent days demonstrates that the leadership is out-of-touch. John Martin has left for the Liberal Party, which he had unabashedly attacked in the Chilliwack-Hope by-election. Rick Peterson, a strong possibility for Candidate for Vancouver-Quilchena, has also quietly dropped his desire to run for the Conservatives. Worst of all is the departure of John van Dongen, the party's only MLA. He should have been given a hero's welcome for his honest exposition of the worst excesses of the BC Liberals, his zealous pursuit of the BC Rail scandal, and his passionate commitment for doing what is right for his constituents. If he wasn't made Deputy Leader immediately, he of all people should have been a major factor in determining the party's direction. Instead, he was sidelined, ignored, and frustrated in his attempts to change the party's direction to that of a credible alternative to the BC Liberals and BC NDP. No cooperation, no explanations, no olive branches from the party leadership. This objectionable treatment of the very best that can run for the party has been extremely effective at deterring other high-profile candidates or MLAs of integrity from joining the BC Conservatives.

No one can lead an organization by shoving things down the throats of key people or key stakeholders, claiming the power of the majority to tyrannize as it wills. Leadership is about listening, reconciliation of differences, and mutual respect. Leadership is not about going one's own way, expecting others to follow without listening to them, and intimating that "if you are not with me, you are against me." Jesus is reported to have said that, and John Cummins did liken himself to Jesus Christ during questions about his leadership of the party. However, it is respectfully submitted that-at least according to those who are likely to believe that Jesus did in fact say something like that-Jesus had abandonment, betrayal and a spectacular demise on his agenda. Respectfully, that was not the mission of the BC Conservative Party and not why the party chose John Cummins to be the party leader.v

Milan Kljajic
President
Vancouver Kingsway Constituency Association of the British Columbia Conservative Party

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