BC Conservatives and BC United hold dueling rallies in Courtenay

BC Conservatives and BC United hold dueling rallies in Courtenay
CHEK
A BC Conservative Party rally is pictured in this file photo.

Vancouver Island got a big dose of B.C. political drama on Thursday, as the BC Conservatives and BC United parties held dueling rallies in Courtenay.

The Mid-Island city became a political battleground, with BC United Leader Kevin Falcon holding a town hall at the Florence Filberg Centre on Thursday night, while BC Conservative Leader John Rustad held a rally just 20 minutes away at the Black Creek Estate Winery.

Both parties are hoping to take North Island ridings away from the BC NDP in the October election.

“This isn’t my first time in Courtenay-Comox, I’ve been there a number of times and I’ll keep returning,” Falcon told CHEK News on Thursday. “I think our message and the changes we’re proposing resonate with people because they are about providing solutions, not just critiquing what’s going wrong but actually saying what we’re going to do differently.”

Rustad had a similar message of change.

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“Vancouver Island in particular has always been NDP for the last little while, but it used to all be Socred (British Columbia Social Credit Party). And people on Vancouver Island are very much looking for change, they feel like they’ve been taken advantage of, they feel like they’ve just been taken for granted,” said Rustad.

The BC Conservative Party has come under fire in the region recently, however.

Their former Courtenay candidate, Damon Scarse, resigned this week after previous homophobic social media posts he made came to light.

READ MORE: Rob Shaw: BC Conservatives lose Courtenay-Comox candidate over social media posts

“Damon put out a number of Tweets – unfortunately that information had been scrubbed from the net before we got to the vetting process, so we were unaware that information was on there,” said Rustad.

“When that came to light, Damon approached us and said, ‘Look this is going to be a problem.’ So he offered his resignation and we accepted it.”

It’s the third Conservative candidate to drop out in the Island region over the last two months.

Esquimalt nurse Jan Webb was let go after saying people vaccinated for COVID are more likely to spread the virus, and Denman Island doctor Stephen Malthouse was fired for spreading medical misinformation and alleging that vaccines give people magnetism.

“John has attracted, frankly, a clown car full of candidates who have really extreme opinions that he apparently is quite comfortable with allowing as part of his party,” said Falcon.

Still, those candidates appear to have had little effect on Conservative popularity.

A new Angus Reid poll released Thursday reaffirmed the parties’ standings, with the NDP at 41 per cent of decided voters surveyed, the conservatives at 30 per cent, United at 16 and Greens at 11.

With files from CHEK’s Rob Shaw

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