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BC Conservatives buoyed by Wildrose success

The defection of two Alberta MLAs to the upstart Wildrose Alliance Party has reignited interest in the B.C. Conservative Party, according to its president.

"The Wildrose Alliance recent success in Alberta indicates that the electorate is desirous of a truly conservative party, one that is accountable and trustworthy," BC Conservative president Wayne McGrath told The Tyee.

"The policies of our two parties are quite similar, and appear to be what disgruntled voters are searching for," he added.

McGrath said that there has been "unprecedented interest" in B.C.'s far-right party since last summer, when the governing BC Liberals released post-election budget numbers along with plans to introduce a Harmonized Sales Tax (HST).

A November 2009 poll conducted for the Canadian Restaurant and Food Services Association (which is fighting the HST) showed the BC Conservative party at 14 per cent support, behind the BC New Democratic Party at 25 per cent and the governing BC Liberals at 22 per cent.

"British Columbians are telling us that they now recognize that, unless there is a credible third Party, the NDP will most certainly form the next government," McGrath said.

McGrath does not expect BC Liberals to defect in the near future, however.

"Many Liberal MLAs are undoubtedly very uncomfortable with the Leadership (or lack thereof) in their party," he daid. "However, we do not expect any to declare support for the BC Conservative Party until we have elected a credible leader, probably in early 2011, and we have at least one sitting MLA, probably as a result of a by-election."

The B.C. Conservative Party ran 24 candidates in the May 2009 provincial election, but took about 2.1 per cent of the popular vote and did not elect an MLA.

Likewise in the March 2008 provincial election in Alberta, the Wildrose Alliance received 6.77 per cent of the popular vote without electing a member.

Monte Paulsen reports for The Tyee.

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