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Former B.C. premiers join in calls for a right-of-centre party merger


A seismic shift could be coming to the B.C. political landscape as backroom talks to strike a deal between the province's two right-of-centre parties are underway.

“It’s a well-known historical fact that the centre-right can't win as two parties in B.C.,” noted University of British Columbia political scientist Gerald Baier on Wednesday.

The BC Conservatives are battling with the BC NDP for the lead in recent polls with the opposition BC United falling far behind. However, there are still worries that vote splitting could propel the NDP to a supermajority.

On Wednesday, BC United leader Kevin Falcon clarified that any deal would not be a full merger with the BC Conservatives.

“There are issues around many of their candidates, there are issues around logistics, but some other options for co-operation could be looked at in terms of identifying seats and deciding whether both parties need to run people in every single seat,” a statement from his office said.

But even that scenario would present practical challenges.

“BC Conservatives only have two seats and BC United have a couple of dozen, and BC United presumably would not want to give up any of their incumbents,” opined Hamish Telford, a political scientist at the University of the Fraser Valley.

Still, an appetite for some union is growing, including from a couple of former B.C. premiers.

Bill Vander Zalm was a Social Credit premier from 1986 to 1991. He supports some form of co-operation between the two parties.

“I think it would be nice to see a more united, conservative or right-wing approach to this, because something needs to happen – and something dramatic,” said Vander Zalm Wednesday, from his Delta home.

Former BC Liberal premier Christy Clark told CTV News Wednesday in a statement that it is "incredibly important" for the two parties to find a way to topple the reigning BC NDP.

"B.C. has the slowest economy in Canada under this NDP government. For the first time since 2012, more people have left than have come here. Many of those are our kids, because they no longer believe they can build their future here. That’s the result of seven years of New Democrats. We can’t afford another four more. The two parties must unite to defeat them," she wrote.

Rumours have been swirling that a third premier—BC Liberal Gordon Campbell—has been asked to take part in the talks. The BC Conservatives told CTV News Wednesday that Campbell had been asked to represent Falcon and his team.

“Neither party, neither leader, wants to take the blame for an NDP victory, so I think both leaders, both parties are bending over backward now to appear to be co-operative,” said Telford.

So far, there’s no sign of a deal and talks are described as “preliminary,” but pressure is mounting. Top Stories

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