10/09/2012 12:56 EDT | Updated 12/09/2012 05:12 EST

B.C. Conservatives 'Dissidents' Fire Back At Cummins

The power struggle inside the B.C. Conservative Party appears to be heating up, after leader John Cummins issued an ultimatum to dissidents over the weekend.

On Sunday, Cummins issued a public statement giving dissidents within the party until noon Wednesday to get in line or resign their membership.

Now a group of those dissidents is firing back, sending a letter to Cummins claiming to have the support of nearly one-quarter of all constituency association presidents in calling on Cummins to step down as leader.

The letter, signed by Allison Patton, the president of the Surrey-White Rock constituency association, and Ariane Eckardt, the Burnaby North president, blames Cummins for divisions that are dividing the fledgling party.

"The division that has occurred within the B.C. Conservatives has occurred under your watch. This division has cost us our only sitting MLA and the possibility of having others who were ready to cross. These missed opportunities cannot be undone," said the letter.

The party's political fortunes have also been on a downward slide with the recent defection of candidate John Martin and the resignation of John van Dongen, the party’s only sitting MLA last month.

But Cummins survived a push to oust him at the party's AGM, when 70 per cent of party members failed to support a motion for a leadership review put forward by vice president Ben Besler.

Patton and Eckardt have scheduled a news conference for Wednesday to speak about their concerns.

"While you may argue that we have no right to challenge your legitimacy as head of the party, you have no right to challenge our legitimacy as heads of the CA’s and call us 'dissidents' and then ask us to leave the party. WE ARE THE PARTY," said their letter.

The most recent poll by Angus Reid put the Conservatives in third place with 19 per cent voter support, behind the governing Liberals at 25 per cent and the opposition NDP at 46 per cent.

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