05/10/2013 10:53 EDT | Updated 07/10/2013 05:12 EDT

John Cummins says voters 'have another choice'

Throughout the campaign, B.C. Conservative leader John Cummins has painted himself an outsider.

He has kept his campaign tour simple, driving across the province in his well-used pickup truck.

"It's great to get out on the road just to see beautiful British Columbia and to meet the people," Cummins told CBC News.

"My wife and I have enjoyed it very, very much."

Cummins was born in Georgetown, Ont. He worked in Ontario’s pulp and paper industry and in Alberta’s oilfields before moving to B.C. in the 1960s. He worked underground on construction of the W.A.C. Bennett Dam, a large hydroelectric dam on the Peace River in northern B.C.

Eventually, he settled in Delta, where he worked as a school teacher for 15 years, teaching both Grade 1 and high school math. He also taught in the Northwest Territories and northern Alberta.

But Cummins says everything changed one day when he saw an ad on television.

"They were talking about a lot of things," he said. "Western alienation, a fact that Western Canada didn't have much of a voice in Ottawa — and it just captivated my interest."

Eventually he was elected as an MP.

Cummins served as the Delta-Richmond East MP for nearly 18 years, elected first as a Reform Party and later as a Canadian Alliance member in 1997 and 2000 and then a Conservative in 2004, 2006 and 2008.

During his time in office, Cummins — who owned and operated commercial fishing vessels in B.C. for several decades — served as the critic for Fisheries and Oceans twice.

He was a vocal proponent of the commercial fishing industry and was one of 40 commercial fishermen fined for illegal fishing over a 2001 protest over what they said were abuses in aboriginal food fisheries.

Cummins even spent a couple nights behind bars for his participation in the protest.

"Somewhere along the line I earned that term of 'maverick'," Cummins said.

"I always thought that I was pretty well-behaved. But there were moments, you might say."

In March 2011, Cummins left Ottawa and ran unopposed for leadership of the B.C. Conservative Party later that year.

Last fall, a faction of the party tried to oust him as leader, but Cummins held onto power.

While it's a long shot for any Conservative to win a seat, Cummins says he believes the party offers an alternative for voters.

"I'm here to tell you, you have another choice," he said.

"I think that we've certainly prepared the ground for the success that the B.C. Conservatives will have for years to come. And I think that that's what we'll continue to do."