“Today, after careful consideration, I have made the decision to join the Conservative Party of British Columbia to keep that promise to my community and my constituents,” Mr. Banman said.
“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.”
In an interview with The Epoch Times, party leader John Rustad echoed Mr. Banman’s remarks and suggested that Mr. Bantman’s addition to the party will help propel the party to more relevance and a larger footprint when preparing for the next election.
“Our goal is to be competing for government in the next election,” Mr. Rustad said. “And with Bruce Banman joining our party, it gives us official party status. But more importantly, it speaks to the issues that we’re championing, and the things that Bruce stands for.”
Mr. Rustad said the new member of his party felt he couldn’t “represent his constituents” with his old party.
“I’m really pleased he feels he can find that voice and have the ability to represent his constituents through the Conservative Party of British Columbia,” Mr. Rustad said.
Kevin Falcon, leader of the BC United party, said that the move was not a complete surprise but that the defection betrays constituents who elected Mr. Banman to be part of the BC United caucus.
In a statement, Mr. Falcon said there were “ongoing internal management challenges” within his party that may have contributed to Mr. Banman crossing the floor to a different team, as well as brand confusion caused by the party’s name change.
“BC United is the only party that can defeat the NDP government and act on the significant challenges facing British Columbians,” Mr. Falcon said.
SupportRecent polling shows a surge for the B.C. Conservatives in September compared to previous months, and a decline in support for the BC United party.
Prince George resident Brian Kenna is one of the people who has shifted his support from the United party to the Conservatives, because he says the former was sticking to an outdated political platform and wasn’t representing the conservative voice in the province.
“We’re kind of in this situation where we know what the [BC] Liberal Party was like before they changed their name,” Mr. Kenna said in an interview. “But it doesn’t seem like they’ve changed their viewpoint or their stand on things.”
Pollster Marco Canseco says he has seen the Conservative Party of B.C. gain momentum in the past, and said the party’s challenge has always been maintaining that voter push into election season. But he says the bigger task will be recruiting and vetting quality candidates.
“Rustad is more experienced and he’s been in winning campaigns before, but will they have the actual wherewithal to run a full slate [of candidates]?” Mr. Canseco said in an interview.
Official Party StatusThe shift in MLAs now leaves the legislature with 56 New Democrats, 26 BC United MLAs, two BC Green Party MLAs, and the two Conservatives, Mr. Banman and Mr. Rustad.
The Office of the Speaker and the Legislative Assembly Management Committee will be left to determine if the Conservatives will receive the same resources as the Greens, both having an equal number of seats in the legislature.
Mr. Banman meanwhile, has taken a stand on the issues of homelessness and transportation and said he opposes the “punishing carbon tax” and the “myth of safe [drug] supply.”
“We don’t support Trudeau-backed policies like the punishing carbon tax that hurts everyday people,” said Mr. Banman in his statement on Sept. 13.
“We refuse to condone the ideological NDP education agenda that teaches students what to think instead of how to think; and, we will never support the myth of safe supply that kills British Columbians and poisons our communities with hard drugs.”
Until Mr. Banman joined the Conservative Party of B.C., Mr. Rustad sat as an independent MLA as the sole member of the party. During a byelection in Langford-Juan de Fuca in June, the Conservatives finished second with nearly 20 percent of the vote, trailing the NDP candidate—considered a major gain as the party edged out the BC United candidate who won just 8.6 percent of the vote.