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Writer’s Block: B.C. United Conservatives? Not today



There is no joy in right-of-centreville these days.

News last week that BC United and the BC Conservatives aren’t going to merge or work at least conspire to defeat the NDP in the next provincial election has many right-wing folks bemoaning another electoral defeat. They’re probably right.

There have been a few unite-the-right movements over the years and this one fizzled faster than the Maple Leafs’ playoff hopes. It is true that a fractured right-of-centre vote in this province usually paves the way for an NDP victory.

However, BC Conservative leader John Rustad has been painting the NDP and BC United with the same brush, saying a vote for either is a vote for the status quo. I’m not sure about that, but the NDP and BC United are probably closer on the political spectrum than BC United and the Conservatives are.

Rustad and the Conservatives are capitalizing on the recent surge in popularity of more right-wing ideologies … some of what we would have called ‘fringe’ not so long ago. Falcon and BC United have not jumped on that bandwagon and that opened the door for the Conservatives, who now lead in the polls.

And that has BC United afraid … very, very afraid. That is evident by the fact they entertained talking with the BC Conservatives at all.

The talks crashed and burned with both BC United leader Kevin Falcon and Rustad blaming each other. I do have to agree with Rustad in his assertion that the BC United plan was all about gaining power, not about serving the people of B.C.

He put forward a somewhat convoluted plan whereby the two parties wouldn’t run candidates against each other in the upcoming election, thereby avoiding any vote-splitting on the right. They would even get together to decide which ridings they would each run candidates in. If the two parties garnered more votes than the NDP, they would form a coalition government with the premier being the leader of the party with the most seats.

Yup, Rustad was right … get elected first, then sort out pesky minor details such as policy platforms.

Things got even worse for BC United and better for the BC Conservatives on Friday when Cariboo-Chilcotin MLA Lorne Doerkson crossed the floor to the Conservatives. (Full disclosure, I worked with Doerkson for about five years … long before he became a politician.) Doerkson … who has adopted the Conservative mantra of inserting ‘common sense’ into every second sentence, ‘broken’ into every government reference and ‘radical’ into the description of social programs … said he had to listen to constituents who were telling him BC United wasn’t doing it for them.

It’s when you listen to constituents that you get elected, so he stands a good chance of retaining his seat, as does Rustad in Nechako Lakes. The questions that remains to be answered are how many other seats will the Conservatives manage to win (recent polls say a lot); will it be enough to form government (unlikely); will it be enough to become the Opposition (quite possibly); and will BC United rue changing their name from B.C. Liberals (already happening).

As for the NDP? The best thing they can do is try not to gloat and keep their mouths shut.

Bill Phillips is an award-winning columnist with 35 years of experience in community newspapers.

Carolyn Grant

About the Author: Carolyn Grant

I have been with the Kimberley Bulletin since 2001 and have enjoyed every moment of it.
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