Surging BC Conservatives tie BC United for support

 John Rustad
John Rustad

In just over one year, it is expected British Columbians will head to the polls to select their next provincial government and this time around, it seems as though there may be a new challenger for David Eby and the BC NDP.

New data from the non-profit Angus Reid Institute finds BC residents just as likely to say that they will support the burgeoning Conservative Party of BC as the opposition BC United.

The BC Liberals had 31% support in April when they renamed themselves BC United, but now have only 22% support. Leader Kevin Falcon recently suggested the name change may have confused some would-be supporters.

The BC Conservatives acclaimed former BC Liberal MLA John Rustad as leader earlier this year and have surged in support. Rustad — who had been sitting as an independent since being expelled from his former party last summer — was joined in September by another party-switching colleague, Bruce Banman, giving the BC Conservatives official party status in the legislature.

On September 20, the day of the million-person march, Rustad released a statement in support of parental rights and against transgender ideology in schools.

“First and foremost, children in British Columbia should never be told by any teacher or any government employee: ‘You don't have to tell your mom and dad,’” Rustad wrote.

“Parents raise children — not government, and we have laws in British Columbia to protect children who are unsafe at home.”

Rustad said he was making his stance “crystal clear” and made three pledges on education in the province: to remove SOGI123 materials from schools; to ensure honesty, transparency and accountability in education, and to restrict women’s bathrooms and sports to biological females.

While the Consrvatives jockey for second, the BC NDP remain far in the lead. More than two-in-five British Columbians (43%) say they would support the incumbent party if an election were held, a support level equalling their two leading opponents combined.

The NDP lead in vote intention among all age and gender groups, except men over the age of 55 where BC United has a three-point lead.

The BC Conservative Party is most popular with men aged 35 to 54 at 30% support.

The NDP also lead in all regions. Northern BC and the Interior are the most competitive, as 38% would vote NDP and 31% support BC United.

Premier David Eby maintains a 51% approval rating despite strong popular discontent on major issues.

Residents choose the cost of living, health care and housing affordability as the top three priorities. Two-thirds (67%) say the BC NDP is performing poorly on health care, while four-in-five say this of both the cost of living (78%) and housing affordability (82%).

Approval ratings are much lower for Eby’s competition.

United leader Kevin Falcon has a favourable assessment from 28% of the population, while 24% say the same of Conservative leader John Rustad. BC Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau is viewed favourably by 35%.

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