It may be tracking well in the polls, but the B.C. Conservative party has yet to demonstrate why it should be considered a credible alternative when it comes to forming government in this province.
In fact, the party's appointment of old recycled politicians as its "issues management committee" in charge of crafting party policy raises legitimate questions of whether the party can ever really grow in popularity, at least to the point of gaining power.
The B.C. Conservatives look, quite frankly, old and narrowly based. Its leader is 70-year-old John Cummins, and he's just named 70-year-old Brian Peckford (a former premier of Newfoundland) and 64-year-old Randy White (a former federal MP) as his chief advisors.
The appointments do little to dispel the party's growing image as a collection of "old, white guys" who have little in common with the vast majority of voters.
Political parties with a legitimate chance to form government reach out to all sectors of society. The NDP and the B.C. Liberals, for example, have spent years aggressively recruiting support (and candidates) among women, youth and ethnic communities.
The B.C. Conservatives, on the other hand, have yet to demonstrate they are interested in doing the same thing. In fact, the party continues to look like the rebirth of the old Reform Party of Canada.
Both Cummins and White were long-time Reform MPs (and both were elected in the party's breakthrough election of 1993).
And the president of the B.C. Conservatives is former Reform MP Reed Elley, a pastor and social conservative whose views often landed him in hot water.
This brings up another issue that could dog the B.C. Conservatives. Most British Columbians are not social conservatives, and polls show there is majority support for same-sex marriages and reproductive rights for women, to name just two issues that bedevil social conservatives.
Cummins, for his part, once said people "choose" their sexual orientation and are not born with it. White has voiced opposition to same-sex marriages, and Elley once said he thought homosexuality should not have been "decriminalized."
These are the views of the people running a party that claims it is a legitimate alternative to the both the B.C. Liberals and the NDP when it comes to running this province. The B.C. Conservatives insist that they should replace the B.C. Liberals as the so-called "free enterprise coalition" party in this province.
But until it can show it has shed the social conservative views of those running the show, it cannot expect to form a "coalition" with anyone. Right now, the party is tracking at around 20 per cent of the decided vote in most polls, which might allow it to win a handful of seats in the next election.
But to have a realistic chance of forming government, a party must have the support of about 40 per cent of the popular vote, which means the B.C. Conservatives would have to double the level of their current support.
It will have great difficulty doing that until it shows it is willing to embrace and attract the support of more than just "old, white guys" who have intolerant views on certain issues. Cummins insists he's going to do that, but the jury is still out - way out - on this promise.
Keep an eye on what kind of candidates the party names to run in the next election. It will be interesting to see how many women, South Asian Canadians and young people it attracts.
Cummins should be wary of the trap Alberta's Wildrose Alliance leader Danielle Smith fell into in that province's recent election, when her campaign was derailed when two of her candidates had socalled "bozo eruptions" that involved their intolerant views.
Cummins once told me he was concerned that his party had to do everything it could to avoid attracting the kind of candidates whose intolerant views could surface in the middle of an election campaign, and cripple the party's attempts at a breakthrough.
If Cummins finds himself dealing with accusations his party is a social conservative one, it will bring a big smile to the faces of Premier Christy Clark and her B.C. Liberal colleagues.
While the B.C. Conservatives are right now a major threat to Clark and her gang, all it takes is a couple of "bozo eruptions" to turn that threat into a benign one, thus breathing life into a government that right now is on life support.
Keith Baldrey is chief political reporter for Global BC Keith.Baldrey@globalnews.ca