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'Don't be confused': Kevin Falcon tells people thinking of voting for BC Conservatives not to get 'conned'

Kevin Falcon has strong words for anyone thinking about voting for the Conservative Party of BC: “Don’t be confused and don’t be conned.”

The leader of the opposition spoke to NowMedia this morning in the wake of his astonishing announcement on Friday that his party, BC United, met with representatives from the insurgent BC Conservatives twice in May to discuss an electoral deal ahead of October’s election.

The offer, he said, was “reasonable” – involving the two parties staying out of each other’s way in dozens of ridings – but BC Conservatives Leader John Rustad “placed his own ambition above the interests of British Columbia” and rejected the deal.

Rustad hit back the same day, saying BC United’s offer was “completely unserious and dishonest.” He also attacked Falcon as “clearly irrational and unreasonable and prepared to lie.”

In his interview with NowMedia on Monday, Falcon was keen to emphasize what he perceives as the low standard of representatives that his rivals on the right are putting forward.

“We are very, very careful in attracting high quality candidates,” he said. “We vet them carefully. They all have to get everything from criminal record checks to full social media vetting, because we want to make sure we're putting forward really credible people.”

He mentioned Dr. Michael Humer in Kelowna Centre, Stephen Johnston on the Westside and Pavneet Singh in Kelowna–Lake Country–Coldstream.

The BC Conservatives, on the other hand, have selected a “clown car of candidates that aren’t ready to govern.”

“Just look at some of the candidates that they're bringing on board – including, by the way, a former NDP MLA, which is very bizarre in itself – but other candidates that have very, very bizarre views that equate vaccinations with apartheid and Nazism and things like that,” he said.

He added: “Be careful of the change you wish for. You want to make sure you get serious people elected that are going to get things fixed and get it back on track, as we did as BC Liberals. That's why we built the William Bennett Bridge. That's why we invested in the Kelowna heart and stroke centre.”

Falcon also revisited two other points he has frequently made when asked about the rapid rise of the BC Conservatives: that his rivals are benefiting from the false impression they are associated with the federal Conservatives, and that it would be a mistake to read too much into polls.

“I'll tell you, by the time that election rolls around and the campaign gun goes off for a 28-day campaign, I think it could be a very different landscape,” he said. “This is British Columbia, after all. I want to remind people: things can change quickly here in five minutes, much less five hours.”

He also said he doesn’t think federal Tory Leader Pierre Poilievre will intervene – as some have suggested – by endorsing one of the two parties.

There’s been “a long tradition for federal parties to stay out” of provincial politics, he said, though he also emphasized that he himself has been a “long-time federal Conservative.”

He repeated his opinion that the BC Conservatives have benefited from “voter confusion,” something he also told NowMedia in February.

The pollster Dimitri Pantazopoulos, however, disagreed with that assessment earlier this month, saying that, in his view, ballot confusion is “unlikely to be a significant factor” in the election.

Falcon, meanwhile, also said the BC Conservatives’ presence is nothing new.

“I remember even as late as the late 1990s, for God's sakes, we were trying to say to the BC Conservatives, Please don't run candidates,” he recounted. “All you do is split the vote, and that's all they ever do. They never win seats. They just allow the NDP to get elected. That's how we ended up with an NDP government, frankly, in 2017.”

Falcon also went into more detail about Rustad’s claim that the BC Conservatives were told to “f– off” when a potential deal with BC United was mooted earlier this year.

He said the claim is “very frustrating” and reflects poorly on the BC Conservatives.

“The statement itself tells you how not ready they are for prime time,” he said. "I mean, who puts out a statement like that that suggests that I told him to f– off?”

He added: “I've never sent John an email or a text message saying that. So I don't know why he feels the need, but just the immaturity to put words like that in a public statement says something about them already. And this probably indicates why they attract the kind of candidates they do that are, frankly – it's a clown car of candidates that aren't ready to govern. And this is a really serious election. I can't underscore that. We need serious people.”

BC United “made a genuine effort” to negotiate with the BC Conservatives, he said, but Rustad’s refusal to come to terms marks the end of any negotiations.

“We’re not going to try to get those talks going again,” he explained.

Falcon also put out his pitch to people thinking of voting for the BC Conservatives instead of his party.

“Don't be confused and don't be conned,” he said.

“Don't be conned into believing that the BC Conservatives are somehow like the federal Conservatives. They're not.”

Thumbnail photo credit: NowMedia/John Rustad/X

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