B.C. Conservatives lay rumour of party merger with B.C. United to rest

'Let me be clear, there will be no merger, the Conservative Party of B.C. will be running 93 candidates for the upcoming election,' Conservative leader John Rustad told Rebel News.

B.C. Conservatives lay rumour of party merger with B.C. United to rest
The Canadian Press / Chad Hipolito and The Canadian Press / Darryl Dyck
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Speculation has surged online of a potential merger between the Official Opposition, B.C. United, and the up-and-coming Conservative Party of B.C.

The rumors gained traction after BCU leader Kevin Falcon and his Conservative counterpart, John Rustad, acknowledged discussions had taken place to defeat the governing NDP, their main political rival.

"We got emissaries from both parties that are having discussions to see if we can find common ground, recognizing that the real enemy is the [B.C.] NDP government," said Falcon when questioned about the potential collaboration. He said egos aside, the need for common ground is vital, as "four more years of that government will be frankly economically devastating."

Rumours have since swirled on the matter, suggesting that former BCU premier, Gordon Campbell, was approached to facilitate a merger of sorts on behalf of Falcon.

On Wednesday, Premier David Eby warned the potential merger would further shape next election as the "starkest choice in a generation."

He claimed Falcon and Rustad let the "mask slip" this week on forming a centre-right alternative to the NDP. Neither leader has elaborated what that could look like. 

Eby took aim at the Conservatives earlier this week on the issue of childcare, mentioning Rustad and his party 10 times, while referring once to the Opposition BC United as their main political threat.

The premier told his caucus that next election will be decided by voters at their kitchen tables and not lobbyist board rooms.

Catapulting further, Global News claimed that business leaders and political organizers approached Port Coquitlam Mayor Brad West on leading a "free-enterprise coalition party." They further claimed that parties had begun "talks about a potential marriage."

West took to social media to denounce the reports. "Never a dull moment in BC politics, eh?" he said.

"I appreciate the interest in my future, but my plan is to be the best dad I can be to my two sons, the best husband I can be to my wife and the best mayor I can be to the people of Port Coquitlam," reads the statement. "If that ever changes, you’ll hear from me!"

Also taken aback by the rumors, Rustad corrected some of the speculation. "Let me be clear, there will be no merger, the Conservative Party of B.C. will be running 93 candidates for the upcoming election," he told Rebel News.

Commenting further, Conservative Executive Director Angelo Isidorou said "it is unclear" whether the rumours surrounding Mayor West were "fake news." He could not speak to Campbell’s involvement as the party has not been in communication with him.

“There have been no official talks taking place with BC United," clarified Isidorou. "There have been various individuals from the business community who have reached out to meet with them on our behalf," he said. "So far, no option has been presented."

Falcon earlier said his party intends to run a full slate of candidates for the general election this October. The party currently has 26 MLA seats in the legislature to the Conservatives two seats.

"The last time we had talks with B.C. United was in December when Kevin Falcon told us to 'F*ck off' in response to us reaching out," said Isidorou. 

The Conservative Party is making substantial gains in recent polling, outperforming B.C. United by growing margins.

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