Rob Shaw: Leaders of BC United and Conservatives say they are open to merger talks

Rob Shaw: Leaders of BC United and Conservatives say they are open to merger talks
BC United leader Kevin Falcon (left) and BC Conservative Leader John Rustad (right) are pictured.

B.C.’s United and Conservative parties both say they are open to merger talks, as yet another poll released Tuesday shows the conservatives surging in popularity to challenge the BC NDP.

The poll increased pressure on both parties to find a way to cooperate, as the business community pushes behind the scenes to form a right-wing option for voters this October to defeat the BC NDP.

Both leaders seemed more open to the idea Tuesday than ever before, as a poll by Abacus Data shows the Conservatives rising, and United falling.

The NDP dropped to 40 per cent, down four per cent since November, while the Conservative rose eight per cent to 34 per cent.

Meanwhile, BC United fell four per cent to 13 per cent in the poll released Tuesday, while the Greens held at around 10 per cent.

Regionally, the biggest stronghold for the NDP remains Vancouver Island, but Conservatives are doing well in every other region.

BC United is lagging behind in the Interior and North, which may be worrying for the party, because that is where they hold most of their seats.

So how would a merger work?

You could try to combine the parties, but the Conservatives hold the leverage now, so they’d want Kevin Falcon out, as well as a series of United incumbent MLAs to resign.

United has better fundraising and organization, but their name change has been disastrous. Plus, Falcon and John Rustad both hate each other.

Negotiators in the business community are trying to broker some sort of non-compete, since together polls show that the two parties have more than enough support to defeat the NDP.

“We’ve got emissaries from both parties that are having discussions to see if we can find common ground, recognizing the real enemy is the NDP government – and four more years of that government I think will be, frankly, economically devastating,” said Falcon on Tuesday.

Rustad says there have been talks, but that the Conservative party isn’t looking to compromise.

“But I can tell you we will not compromise what we have been building as a party. People are tired of 33 years. It’s been 16 years of BC Liberal, 17 years of NDP, they’re looking for something different and that’s what we are going to deliver,” he said.

Despite all of that, both leaders said Tuesday that they went to run their own full slates of 93 candidates, which would make it hard, if not impossible, to cooperate.

The sentiment is that a ‘United Conservative’ party, if you will, has the broad public support to defeat the NDP, based on the results of numerous polls over the past few months. The logistics, however, is where that falls apart.


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