The BC Conservative Party has just released its latest bulletin.  The heading?

‘Have Party.  Need Leader’.  No, we’re not joking.  One short year before the 2017 provincial election, the BCCP is openly advertising for a leader.  A leader would certainly be a good starting point.

The bulletin should probably actually read ‘Have the tattered remnants of a Party. Need Leadership’.

Perhaps the potential leader candidate needs a primer.

We note that the BCCP is enthusiastically offering an ‘application package’ to be sent to prospective hopefuls.  This, apparently, is how you attract the possible Premier of BC.  You send out blind applications for the job – upon request.  Now, to be fair, is that any worse than a targeted approach?  After all, one of the highlights of our current Premier’s resume prior to assuming political office was the ability to smile pretty while reading the news.

However, potential Leader, there are a few little known facts that you should know concerning the job to which you aspire.

Leaders of the BCCP have not fared well in recent years.  In fact, the issue of leadership is probably at the core of the continuing futility and lack of confidence in the credibility of the BCCP.

To be charitable, let’s only look at the past 11 or 12 years.

2004 – 2005

Barry Chilton is leader of the BCCP and dances with the British Columbia Unity Party ( a coalition of Reform Party, Social Credit, Family Coalition, British Columbia Party and Conservative).  The BCCP and the BC Unity Party agree in principle to merge on September 1, 2004 under the Conservative Party banner but Chilton subsequently withdraws BCCP support and presents a new proposal to the BC Unity Party for a merger agreement on September  24th/25th, 2004.  BC Unity Party members reject the counter-proposal and reaffirm support for the original  proposal to merge. Merger doesn’t happen, both parties continue to limp along and Chilton is removed as leader by the BCCP after a non-confidence vote in September, 2005.

Interesting Side Note:  The British Columbia Unity Party officially de-registers in 2008 with many of the members ultimately joining the BCCP – 4 years after the original merger proposal.

2005 -2009

Wilf Hanni is appointed leader to replaced Barry Chilton in 2005 and ratified as leader in 2006 (by acclamation).   The BCCP wins 2.1% of the popular vote province wide in 2008 (but no elected members) and Hanni resigns as leader in 2009, along with 8 Board of Director members.  The reason?  The quote.

“spent much of the last four years fighting a long and protracted battle with a group of dissidents.”  Source:  Vancouver Sun, July 2, 2009

July 2009 – May 2011

The position of leader is left vacant, presumably because of continued infighting, lack of interest by qualified candidates or the inability of the BCCP to demonstrate that it is a legitimate player in the BC electoral arena.  Probably a combination of all of the above.

May 2011 – July 2013

John Cummins, a federal Conservative (first Reform Party, then Canadian Alliance, finally Conservative) MP from 1993 to 2011 is elected leader (only candidate to run).  Cummins makes some bold statements including a suggestion to remove the Carbon Tax and takes the BCCP through the 2013 provincial election where the BCCP gains 4.78% of the popular vote and 0 (zero, zip, nada) seats in the legislature.  Cummins continues to struggle with dissidents within the BCCP, expels a number of vocal members and ultimately steps down as leader July 18, 2013.

July 2013 – April 2014

The position of leader is left vacant, presumably because of continued infighting, lack of interest by qualified candidates or the inability of the BCCP to demonstrate that it is a legitimate player in the BC electoral arena.  Probably a combination of all of the above.  Sounds like a repeat of 2009 through 2011?  (There is a story that the leadership review was delayed 7 months because a candidate fell off a horse but what rational individual is going to buy that explanation?)

April 2014 – January 2016

Dan Brooks is elected leader after an acrimonious battle with Rick Peterson replete with ‘smear campaign’ letters, denials of involvement, subsequent law suits (still active and in discovery at the BC Supreme Court) and a further fracturing of the BCCP.   After almost two years of virtually no political engagement with the media and the voters augmented by virtually no input or comment on issues vital to the province, Brooks announces his resignation as BCCP leader in January, 2016.

During his 20 month tenure as leader, multiple executive members of two separate elected Boards of Directors resign, one in 2014, purportedly due to a refusal to move forward on investigating the alleged ‘smear letter’ campaign and another Board of Directors in 2015, within months of the 2014 AGM.  (The latter resigned executive members were themselves personally endorsed and promoted at the AGM by Dan Brooks as leader – a violation of the BCCP’s own bylaws).

A makeshift self-appointed Board of Directors is covertly convened to limp along until the 2015 AGM (actually held in February 2016).  This unelected Board of Directors, by the way, revises the constitution and bylaws with some wholly improbable and logic-defying amendments including one that allows the leader to keep his job with only 40% favorable support from the members.  (We are not making this up).

So what does this mean for you, prospective leader of the BC Conservative Party?

It means, at the very least, that you are facing an uphill battle in order to make the BCCP credible and respectable – in anyone’s eyes except the delusional sycophants who believe that all is well in the unaffiliated world of the BC Conservative Party.  (It seems that the federal Conservatives prefer to maintain a loose, working relationship with the BC Liberal Party.  Can you blame them?).

Here are a few other facts that you may wish to consider, potential leader of the BCCP.

  • a recent, seriously flawed constitution and bylaws update allows the Board of Directors to not only accept and consider applications for the position of leader, but to also deny your application without cause or explanation, with no further recourse available to you.  (This is democracy?)
  • the unelected (and never ratified by the general membership) Board of Directors in 2015 denied membership renewals and applications from a number of former party members who were instrumental in the 2013 provincial election campaign and previous BCCP mainstays.
  • individuals named as defendants in lawsuits relating to the most recent leadership contest were allowed to continue to sit as directors (either elected or appointed) contrary to conflict of interest rules, parliamentary procedure and plain, simple ethical common sense.
  • the membership base of the BCCP has eroded since the 2013 election as disillusioned members have either quit the BCCP or will decline to renew long term memberships about to expire – before the 2017 election.
  • the BCCP has not developed an election strategy ‘roadmap’ that is being shared with the voters of BC – and the next election is only a year away.
  • a recent (May 2016) Globe and Mail commentator posited (probably accurately) that the BC Conservatives have no hope of getting their act together in time for the (2017) election. (Paraphrased)
  • oh, I almost forgot.  The BCCP’s annual financial report for 2015  (filed with Elections BC) indicates that the BCCP is insolvent.  Should be a lot of fun trying to mount an election campaign for 2017 with diminishing resources – including essentially no money.

So, are you the man or the woman for the job?  ‘Have Party.  Need Leader’.  Certainly, someone needs a leader – and leadership.  But is there really a Party?  A legitimate, credible, electable, ethical Party?

Ask yourself (and the BCCP) the real hard questions and be satisfied with the answers before you respond to that posted job application.  You may save yourself some long term regret.