BRITISH COLUMBIA

BC Election Results Show Conservatives' Once Bright Fortunes Have Fizzled (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

05/15/2013 05:10 EDT | Updated 07/14/2013 05:12 EDT
VANCOUVER - Even before voting day, it was clear British Columbia's fourth-place Conservative party had little chance of the sort of electoral breakthrough that had been predicted just a year ago.

In the spring of last year, Conservative support was polling above 20 per cent — neck-and-neck with the governing Liberals — raising hopes the party would soon be electing members to the legislature.

But this week's election result served as a final confirmation that those B.C. Conservative dreams have collapsed, at least for now, with the party failing to elect anyone and pulling in just five per cent of the popular vote.

Leader John Cummins, who lost badly against a Liberal cabinet minister in his riding of Langley, was at a loss to explain the party's sunken fortunes.

"There's no point in wandering about with your head down saying, 'Could of, would of, should of,'" said Cummins, 71, who will face his party in a leadership review this fall.

"You just have to move ahead and make sure you don't make the same mistakes twice."

Many of the party's candidates didn't do much better in their ridings than the party's share of the provincewide vote. The best Conservative performance came in the riding of Peace River South, where Kurt Peats placed second with 27 per cent of the vote — still more than 1,000 votes behind Liberal Mike Bernier.

In the end, it was the Greens, not the Conservatives, who broke through the province's two-party system, sending a member to the legislature for the first time. Climate scientist Andrew Weaver won his Victoria-area riding.

Cummins said his party's dismal election results don't indicate a failure to register with voters. He said the election results were more about fears of the New Democrats' "voodoo economics."

"The folks we talked to as we travelled the province indicated ... they're upset with the Liberals and the way they conducted business, their dishonesty and deceit," Cummins said.

"It's not so much a Liberal win as an NDP loss."

As for Cummins — the one-time teacher, beer slinger, and commercial-fisherman-turned-politician — said he plans to stick with his party for the long haul, though a leadership review is scheduled for September.

"One thing you can count on is I'll certainly be there fighting for the B.C. Conservatives, because I firmly believe that the people of this province want a choice," he said.

Cummins said he would make his intentions clear to the Conservatives in advance of the party's leadership review this fall.

He said there were a number of things he would have done differently if he had a chance to redo the campaign.

He said his party's lack of money, resources and candidates in all 85 ridings presented barriers — but they were challenges Cummins had anticipated with the party in its infancy.

"Politics, like life, is a learning experience," Cummins said. "We're human — we're gonna make mistakes — certainly we made our mistakes. You learn from them."

The results are better than the last provincial election in 2009. Four years ago, the Conservatives only had two per cent of the popular vote.

Also on HuffPost

BC Election Night Photos