BC Conservatives rally for support

The BC Conservatives are looking to make a comeback and take advantage of the defeat of Christy Clark and the BC Liberal government last week.

The party is working to re-establish riding associations across the province, including Peace River North.

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"We're trying to rebuild the infrastructure for the BC Conservative party, and, who knows, we can have a snap election called anytime," said Wayne Hiebert, a Doe River resident and regional director for the party, following a meeting in Fort St. John on June 29.

"From my perspective, I just find it hard to believe that the NDP and Green party are going to get along well for any length of time. I think there will be some differences, and everything is so close number wise. If a bill comes up for a vote and one of those members are missing, it could be devastating for them."

No party won a majority of seats in the May 9 election. 

But the 41 NDP MLAs and three Greens signed an accord to work together on a range of issues and use their majority of votes to defeat the 43 Liberals on a confidence vote at the earliest opportunity. They used that advantage June 29 to overthrow Clark in a 44-42 confidence vote on the throne speech.

However, electing a new speaker from their ranks could put the house in a precarious position when voting on legislation, budgets, and a throne speech, with the speaker being forced to break 43-43 vote ties. NDP Leader John Horgan has already established a transition team to form government, with plans to reconvene the legislature around Labour Day. 

Still, the NDP's newfound gains couldn't have come without the indirect support of the Conservatives. The Conservatives were responsible for a handful of riding upsets for the Liberals, Hiebert noted—including the hotly-contested riding of Courtenay-Comox, which went to the NDP by 189 votes following a ballot recount. 

The Conservatives earned 2,201 votes in that riding, roughly one-fifth of the 10,402 votes the party earned province-wide.

"The BC Conservative party was actually recognized that night because of the upset that happened with them being involved," Hiebert said.

The party ran 56 candidates in 2013, winning 85,783 votes, but only 10 candidates in 2017.

The party has an AGM is planned for September with a leadership convention to follow, according to party director and spokesman Scott Anderson. 

"However, if there's a snap election in the near future, we do have a contingency plan to appoint a leader," he said.

The party supports the development of an LNG export industry, wants to eliminate the carbon tax, bolster addictions treatment, and supports "unleashing the potential of the private sector" for small businesses and entrepreneurs, Anderson said. He declined comment on the Site C dam, but he did shoot down Christy Clark's proposal to spend $50 million to build 4,300 electric car charging stations as part of her failed throne speech last month.

"We think private industry should deal with it," he said.

Anderson believes the party has opportunities to compete and win ridings in the Shuswap, Vancouver Island, and in the north, and is working to recruit candidates.

"We believe in small efficient government, and I think that the Liberals have pretended to be that government for some time," he said.

"But, as we've seen, they're willing to shed that entire philosophy if it means staying power."


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