The BC Conservatives have downplayed media speculation that there could be a merger with BC United after the latter’s leader hinted at working together to defeat the ruling NDP.

BC United leader Kevin Falcon said this week there have been private talks about working with the BC Conservative party, though the Conservatives had a different tone, saying no official option has been presented.

“I tried to come to the table months ago when (BC United) and the Conservatives were evenly matched in the polls, so we would have the best chance of defeating the NDP,” John Rustad, leader of the BC Conservatives, said on X. “The answer we got was ‘F–k Off.’”

Falcon kicked Rustad out of the BC United party in August 2022 for posts questioning climate science.

A representative for the BC Conservatives told True North in an email that the party has had individuals from the business community contact BC United on their behalf, but no official talks have taken place.

“As always, our door is open to all who want to buy a membership and join our Conservative Party of BC,” the spokesperson said.

When asked about the issue, Rustad affirmed that his party would be running 93 candidates in the next election no matter what. The party currently has 62 nominated candidates.

“We built this party with hard work piece by piece — now, people want to jump into the drivers seat and kick out our grassroots,” Rustad said in response to hearing the mayor of Port Coquitlam, Brad West is ‘considering’ leading a newly merged BC United-Conservative Party.

“Not going to happen,” he said. “I’ve promised thousands of British Columbians and our thousands of grassroots members — who took the initiative to sign themselves up — to lead this party through the next election. I intend to keep my word.”

West himself threw water on rumours in a post on X Wednesday night.

“Never a dull moment in BC politics eh?” he wrote. “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 & the best Mayor I can be to the people of Port Coquitlam. If that ever changes, you’ll hear from me!”

But Falcon feels it might be time for the two right-of-centre parties to find common ground.

“We have to put aside our own egos, our own party issues, everything else and just figure out whether there’s common ground that can keep in mind what the most important goal is, and that is making sure we don’t end up with another NDP government,” he said at a recent press conference.

Recent polls show Rustad’s Conservatives in a tight race against the BC NDP – the first time that the party has been competitive since the 1950s.

According to a May 6, 2024 research report by Yorkville Strategies, the BC Conservatives would win with 37% of the vote, with the BC NDP trailing close behind at 35%.

“Kevin Falcon’s BC United is in a precarious position that could result in the demise of the BC United party,” said the same report.

According to a Mainstreet Research projection at the end of April, the BC Conservatives led with 38.9% support, with the BC NDP in second place at 36.2%.

Other polls show Rustad trailing the NDP by more than 11%, but what they all have in common is that BC United is projected to be a distant third place, a far cry from when the party, formerly known as the BC Liberals, formed government under Christy Clark in 2011.

At a press conference on Friday, Falcon warned people not to get caught up in the polls, as his party had pulled off a surprise victory in 2013. 

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