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Did Cummins agree to resign? Infighting in BC Conservative ranks grows

Conservative Leader John Cummins at his campaign office in Langley, B.C., on Sept. 17, 2012.

John Lehmann/The Globe and Mail

The saga of the BC Conservative Party took another twist Thursday as a group that has called for the resignation of leader John Cummins alleged that he agreed to step down this week – a charge Mr. Cummins then denied.

In a written statement, the group of dissidents said it was under the impression Mr. Cummins agreed to resign Wednesday and that the details were being worked out.

The statement – signed by a pair of constituency association presidents, Allison Patton and Ariane Eckardt – said Mr. Cummins would have received $4,000 a month for six months.

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But the group said Mr. Cummins balked when he learned he would be replaced by former Conservative candidate Rick Peterson.

When reached by phone Thursday, Mr. Cummins said the group's claim was "a complete fabrication."

"There's absolutely no truth to any of that," he said, adding that he plans to guide the party through the May provincial election.

Al Siebring, the party's president, said much the same.

"It absolutely didn't happen," he said in an interview.

The showdown comes just weeks after Mr. Cummins claimed to have put the leadership question to rest. At an annual party meeting on Sept. 22, he survived a leadership vote with 71 per cent support. But that result did not end the debate. Instead, it prompted the B.C. Conservatives' only sitting MLA, John van Dongen, to quit the party.

Mr. Cummins won the party leadership in May, 2011, in an uncontested race. But the party's disappointing third-place finish in the Chilliwack-Hope by-election in April led to rumblings of discontent.

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