05/05/2013 12:03 EDT

John Cummins Biography: 5 Surprising Things About The Conservative Leader


John Cummins has had a rough ride in this campaign. We've heard so much about Conservative candidates' transgressions that we've hardly had time to learn about their leader.

Let's start with what we know. Cummins served as a Member of Parliament from 1993 to 2011, representing the riding of Delta-Richmond East. He went to Ottawa under the banner of the Reform Party, a precursor to today's Conservative Party of Canada.

While there he earned a reputation as a maverick, willing to speak up against his party where its positions conflicted with those of his constituents. He also served as critic for Fisheries and Oceans, speaking up regularly on behalf of Canada's fishermen.

The 2013 election campaign, his first in provincial politics, has seen him absorb a torrent of criticism over his party's vetting process, which permitted three people to stand as candidates despite making questionable comments online and elsewhere.

But what of their leader? What makes him a maverick? Why does he want to lead British Columbia?

Here are five surprising things about B.C. Conservative Leader John Cummins:

Photo gallery John Cummins: 5 Things To Know See Gallery

Avid Fisherman:John Cummins owned and operated fishing boats for over 20 years before putting his boat, the "Smoke Notch," up for sale in 2011, the Vancouver Sun reported.

Jailbird: John Cummins spent a night in jail in 1996 for fishing during an aboriginal-only opening, the Vancouver Sun reported.

Likes Harmonized Taxes: He supported the unpopular B.C. Harmonized Sales Tax, voting for it while he was a member of Parliament and later saying it was "necessary" in an interview, The Tyee reported.

Construction Worker: He did underground construction work on the W.A.C. Bennett Dam, a hydroelectric project that now provides the province with much of its electricity.

Controversial Speaker: In May 2011, he stated in a CFAX radio interview that sexual orientation is a choice, and that it needs no protection under the B.C. Human Rights Code, CBC reported.