B.C. Conservatives become official party for first time in decades after MLA defects


There was a major shift in B.C. politics on Wednesday after a BC United MLA joined the B.C. Conservatives, making the group an official political party for the first time in decades.

BC United MLA Bruce Banman, from Abbotsford-South, left the party to join B.C. Conservative leader John Rustad, as polls show the party rising in popularity.

Banman says he’s tired of not being able to speak his mind in support of things like the “Freedom Convoy.”

“It was a hard decision, it would have been easier just to stay, but to get out and say, ‘you know what, this is my opportunity to speak on behalf of people who elected me and bring their issues to the floor of Victoria,’” Banman told CHEK News on Wednesday.

“And what John Rustad has said is, you know, what we’re going to have [is] a whole lot more debate and the Conservative Party of British Columbia will encourage that debate. We don’t have to agree, we can agree to disagree on certain items.”

The move has big implications for the province. It gives the B.C. Conservatives two MLAs and official party status in the legislature, meaning hundreds of thousands of dollars in new funding for staff and research, just like the B.C. Greens.

BC United leader Kevin Falcon slammed Banman for using party money and resources to win his seat, and then betraying his constituents.

“In all candor, politics is a team sport, and obviously, you don’t like to have these kind of things happen, but they do happen,” said Falcon on Wednesday.

“I would just remind you, and I reminded Bruce, to look at the history of the MLAs that have done this in the past in British Columbia. It’s in every single case turned out to be political suicide,” he said.

SEE ALSO: BC United promises to end drug decriminalization if elected

The BC Conservatives are riding high with this defection, and a new poll that puts them ahead of BC United.

Last week, a Mainstreet Research poll found that the B.C. Conservatives jumped 19 points compared to the 2020 election, leapfrogging above BC United and placing them second only to the B.C. NDP.

That’s just one poll though, and polls can be wrong. There’s also a lot of voter confusion with the Federal Conservative Party under Pierre Polievre, plus the B.C. Liberals changing their name to BC United.

Still, B.C. Conservative leader John Rustard is very pleased.

“It’s huge just in terms of the continued momentum. We are seeing the momentum in the polls, having Bruce come over continues to build in what we’re accomplishing,” said Rustard.

“Regarding the legislature, it’s very interesting. There’s never been, to the best of my knowledge, four official political parties with party status. So I don’t know what’s going to happen,” he said.

On Wednesday, Banman became the third consecutive MLA for Abbotsford-South to defect.

Before him, Darryl Plecas quit to become speaker, and before that, John van Dongen left the Liberals to join the B.C. Conservative Party.

With files from CHEK’s Rob Shaw


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