Sunbury Neighbourhood Association

the PROVINCE - October 16, 2008

Maverick MP also one of the most successful
Conservative now has six straight election victories
Brian Lewis
The Province

Any politician who wins six consecutive federal elections obviously has a substantial grasp on what motivates voters.

In fact, that grasp is based on a remarkably simple premise, Conservative John Cummins explained yesterday over a post-election breakfast.

"I win because I put constituents ahead of the party," the Delta-Richmond East MP says. "So I get a lot of crossover votes from other parties."

Those crossover votes helped the 66-year-old blow his three rivals out of the water in Tuesday's federal election and the 26,292 votes Cummins collected represented 56 per cent of the riding's popular vote.

More to the point, the result demonstrated again that Cummins' practice of siding with his constituents on an issue -- often to the displeasure of his Conservative colleagues in Ottawa -- consistently pays dividends at the ballot box.

And, in his riding, there is no shortage of opportunities for Cummins to hone his backbencher-maverick skills, given the impacts on his community of the B.C. government's push to expand Deltaport and the road and rail infrastructure that will serve it.

These were major issues in Delta-East Richmond during the election campaign, he says.

Specifically, concern centred on Victoria's proposed $1-billion South Fraser Perimeter Road, the four-lane container-truck freeway that will connect Deltaport with Highway 1.

"The provincial government is not listening to people in Delta about the negative impacts this road will have," he says.

While it's a provincial project, Cummins says there is a federal-funding component involved here.

Consequently, he suggests Ottawa needs to play a larger role and this is something Cummins promises to push for in the coming parliamentary term.

"Because of a slowing world economy and the growth of the port in Prince Rupert, there's no longer a pressing need to race ahead with the SFPR," he warns.

"So let's step back and reassess the situation. But this time let's also look at it from a community perspective, rather than only from a trade-and-business perspective," he notes.

"Unfortunately, when folks criticize the B.C. government on where it's going with projects like the SFPR, it just digs in firmer instead of listening to what voters are saying. This, I think, will hurt it significantly in next May's election," Cummins predicts.

Another initiative he plans to place on a new Conservative government's agenda is more efficient flood management of the Fraser River.

"We should be looking at establishing a lower Fraser River authority with sole responsibility to manage things like diking, dredging, etc., right up to Hope," he says.

The former commercial fisherman says he will also promote better management of the Fraser River's troubled salmon fishery.

"There's no question this fishery is in crisis," Cummins says, "and, if something isn't done in the next two to three years, we'll have destroyed it," he warns. "There should have been no fishing at all allowed this year, for example."

As you can see, Cummins has no plans to alter his maverick style and he's certainly not contemplating retirement.

"I still enjoy getting up in the morning and taking on a challenge," he says with a mischievous chuckle.

 The Vancouver Province 2008

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