A member of the Opposition BC United caucus has defected to join British Columbia’s Conservatives.
Bruce Banman, the MLA for Abbotsford South, said in a statement that he is proud to join his friend B.C. Conservative Leader John Rustad in the provincial legislature.
Banman’s move to the Conservatives gives the party added strength in the legislature, which includes increased funding and party status privileges, as two elected members constitute a political party.
The Office of the Speaker and the Clerk’s office at the legislature have yet to receive official notice of Banman’s political move, but once it arrives the Conservatives will join the New Democrats, BC United and the Greens as the fourth official party in the legislature.
BC United Leader Kevin Falcon said in a statement Wednesday that Banman’s decision to switch parties is not entirely unexpected but it betrays those constituents who elected him to serve as part of the BC United team.
Falcon said BC United is the only party that can defeat the NDP government and act on the significant challenges facing B.C. residents.
“Unfortunately, Bruce Banman has chosen a different path,” said Falcon.
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Banman, who was the BC United critic for emergency management and climate readiness, was elected in 2020 and is a former Abbotsford mayor.
Banman said in a statement he pledged when elected to bring the concerns of his constituents to the legislature, and now after careful consideration he is joining the Conservatives to keep his promise.
“I know first-hand that the Conservative Party of British Columbia is the only party that stands for what’s right in the legislature, rather than what’s politically convenient or politically correct,” he said. “As a Conservative MLA, I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to speak honestly and openly on behalf of my constituents.”
Banman said he and Rustad will be the voice for everyday hardworking people in B.C.’s legislature.
“I believe B.C. needs a leader who is a straight up, decent human being, and a party that’s willing to put politics aside to stand for what’s right,” he said.
Rustad was ejected from the BC United caucus in August 2022 for posting views on social media that questioned the role of carbon dioxide in climate change.
Banman said he is joining a political party that does not support the federal Liberal government’s carbon tax, refuses to condone B.C. education policies surrounding student identity issues and rejects safe supply of hard drugs.
The Conservatives recently placed second ahead of BC United and the Greens in the Malahat-Juan de Fuca byelection on Vancouver Island that was won by the NDP.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 13, 2023.