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Post-election coalition with BC United not ruled out by BC Conservatives


Any chance of BC's two right-of-centre parties coming to a pre-election agreement appears off the table, but that doesn't mean they won't join forces after the election.

BC Conservative Party leader John Rustad wouldn't rule out the potential for a right wing coalition, especially in the event of a BC NDP minority.

Rustad said an NDP win would be a "tragic situation" that his party would try to avert after the fact.

"The BC Conservative Party will do anything and everything we can to bring (the NDP) down as quickly as possible," he told during an interview on May 27 when asked about the potential for a coalition.

READ MORE: No election deal as leaders of BC United and Conservatives trade scathing comments

Pollsters have put the BC NDP ahead again, taking both the popular vote and enough seats to form government.

Rustad's comments don't mean Kevin Falcon's BC United Party will play ball, however, coming after a weekend of either side airing fiery comments over failed negotiations.

Rustad said Falcon turned down merger talks in December 2023 and again in February. During the former, he told the BC Conservatives to "fuck off," Rustad said, according to The Canadian Press.

There appeared to be movement in February, but BC United (formerly BC Liberals) wanted to dictate the terms, Rustad said.

Falcon said his party wanted to "secure a free enterprise, non-competition framework."

READ MORE: First Nations blamed for delays on Tranquille redevelopment in Kamloops

It was a proposal that would see the BC Conservatives run candidates only in ridings where BC United did not have an incumbent. Alan Forseth, campaign manager for the Kamloops area Conservative candidates, said that would mean no one in the two Thompson ridings or the Peace region, for example, where the party is confident of a win.

Rustad, a Prince George MLA, was first elected as a BC Liberal in 2005. He has served in cabinet roles under Premier Christy Clark and continued in opposition after the 2020 election.

He would later be removed from the party under Kevin Falcon's leadership in 2022 after he claimed carbon dioxide emissions were not effecting climate change.

When Rustad joined the BC Conservative Party, he was the only elected member. With MLA Bruce Banman, also a former Liberal, at his side, the Conservatives have around 60 candidates and plan to run in all 93 ridings.

Current polling projects the BC Conservatives to beat BC United as official opposition when British Columbians head to the ballot box.

Rustad toured Kamloops on May 27, where he gave multiple interviews and later would speak to supporters at the Paramount Theatre.

The 2024 provincial election will take place on or before Oct. 19.

— With files from The Canadian Press.

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