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BC Conservatives want an MLA to join them, just not Lekstrom

British Columbia Conservative Party spokesperson and former candidate Dean Skoreyko said there's been talk in his party of approaching Blair Lekstrom to join them, but Skoreyko said he doesn't think it would be a good fit.

Lekstrom stepped down today both from his cabinet position as energy, mines and petroleum resources minister and from the B.C. Liberal Party caucus saying the government should delay implementing the harmonized sales tax which will combine the PST and GST starting July 1.

“This isn't a principled move, this is an ass saving move,” said Skoreyko. Lekstrom has supported the HST and voted for it, he said. “He's had lots of opportunities to stand up and say 'no' to the HST . . . He's not admitting he was wrong. He's basically saying, 'I want to get re-elected.'”

It's too late for Lekstrom to reverse his HST position, Skoreyko said. “You can't stand up in the house when 85 percent of B.C. is against it according to the polls and support it, then stand up a few weeks later and say you're against it,” he said. “A rat is a rat is a rat.”

Adopting an independent would, however, be a boost to the Conservatives, he said. Vicki Huntington has been sitting as an independent since unseating former Attorney General Wally Oppal in Delta South in last year's election.

“We're hoping she'll come over,” said Skoreyko. “If we're going to talk about someone coming into the party, I'd rather talk to Vicki than talk to Blair.”

The Conservatives have been gaining in the polls despite having no leader, he said. They are solidifying ties with the federal party and have donation money coming in. It would be a good time for Huntington, who has conservative roots, to join, he said. “That conversation I think is not too far away.”

"It's very complimentary to hear they would like to talk to me, but we haven't as yet," said Huntington. Time will tell if a viable third option will come together in the province, she said. "They have to sort themselves out and decide what they want their organizations to look like and decide the sort of leadership they want."

Being an independent has allowed her to represent the interests of her constituents, she said, and any third party would have to allow MLAs to serve with integrity. "You can operate with integrity even within a political environment. To me too many people have forgotten that."

By stepping down Lekstrom has taken the strongest stand an MLA or cabinet minister can take, she said. "I admire Lekstrom for taking the position he has," she said. "What he has done is extremely significant."

Failing to oppose the HST will be the downfall of several Liberal MLAs and a gift to both Conservative and NDP candidates, Skoreyko said.

“The polling numbers we're seeing from up north in that area are devastating for the Liberals,” he said. “The writing's on the wall for a lot of those guys. If they want to save their careers they better get off that Liberal ship right away.”

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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