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B.C. premier marks last day of legislature with campaign-style rally speech

B.C. gearing up for provincial election in the fall

Premier David Eby marked the last day of the last legislative session before B.C.’s provincial election to informally kick-off his government’s re-election campaign.

As NDP MLAs and staffers listened from the back of the government caucus room, Eby used the occasion to warn of what he called a “marriage of convenience” between B.C. United under Kevin Falcon and the Conservative Party of B.C. under John Rustad brokered by “downtown lobbyists working for the wealthiest British Columbians.”

Eby even appeared to deliberately misplace the names of the respective party leaders, calling them John Falcon and Kevin Rustad.

“The next election will be decided at the kitchen table, not at the boardroom table,” he said.

Eby appeared to test out several lines, when he talked about Damon Scrase, the provincial Conservatives’ candidate for Courtenay-Comox.

In a social media post dating back to May 2, 2022 and first unearthed by radio host Jas Johal, Scrase said the “most feverishly defended ‘right’ in this country is the right to kill babies. You will never see a Canadian get more animated by any other issue. It’s a bizarre, sclerotic death worshipping society.”

Eby then contrasted Falcon’s statements on abortion with his willingness to find common ground with the Conservatives.

“In response to this (Scrase’s comments), Kevin Falcon said he’ll always support a woman’s right to choose and then in the next breath, said he looked forward to opening negotiations, to working with those same B.C. Conservatives,” he said. “New Democrats will never compromise a woman’s right to choose,” he added.

Eby’s speech happened against the backdrop of discussions between B.C. United and the Conservative Party of B.C. and Falcon said during his last media availability that he cannot do a “merger” with Conservatives because of their candidates.

“I can’t merge with a party that has candidates that equate vaccinations with Nazism and Apartheid,” he said. “Or candidates that say getting a vaccine shot is going to turn you into a magnet.”

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But Falcon did not rule out some future forms of corporation to avoid vote-splitting, without specifying them when asked about them, including a scenario whereby the two parties would not run candidates against each other in selective ridings.

“As I have said, I’m not going to negotiate in public, but what I will say, there (are) all kinds of options out there,” he said. “You have mentioned a couple (scenarios), but really at the end of the day, it has to come down to whether there is a spirit of willingness among (the party leaders) to sit down and see whether there’s common ground to be able to engage in that kind of discussion.”

Falcon acknowledged that time for finding an agreement is tight, but re-affirmed his commitment that he “would be open to doing whatever is the right thing to do” to bring the free-enterprise coalition together to defeat the NDP.

Rustad said the job of any party leader is to make the tent bigger.

“(We) are certainly open to having conversations with anybody who wants to join the party to help to do that,” Rustad said. He also rejected suggestions that his party has limited appeal to provincial voters who would for the federal Liberals. “We are running people from across the political spectrum because it is not about being Conservative or Liberal or NDP or Green,” he said. “It’s about standing up for what’s right and fighting for the everyday person in this province.”

Rustad also re-affirmed his party’s intention to run 93 candidates with him leading the party into the next provincial election.

British Columbians are looking for change, he said.

“Eby knows he has got scandals, he has all kinds of problems, he has flip-flopped on issues,” Rustad said. “He is sinking in the polls and he’s desperate.”