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Falcon sees BC United victory despite polls, defections

The BC United leader told Victoria business leaders on Thursday he’s confident the party will win a majority in this fall’s provincial election
BC United Leader Kevin Falcon speaks at the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce Business Leaders Luncheon at the Delta Hotels Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort on Thursday. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

BC United Leader Kevin Falcon told Greater Victoria business leaders on Thursday he’s confident the party will win a majority in this fall’s provincial election, despite polling that puts it in third place.

Falcon said he is optimistic despite the fact the party lost two MLAs in recent days when Elenore Sturko, who represents Surrey South, and Lorne Doerkson, who represents Cariboo-Chilcotin, left for the Conservative Party of B.C.

The defections followed a May Angus-Reid poll that showed the B.C. NDP leading among decided voters at 41 per cent, the Conservative Party of B.C. at 30 per cent, BC United at 16 per cent and the B.C. Greens at 11 per cent.

The BC United leader said he’s skeptical of polls, which can “change in a nanosecond,” pointing to the party’s success in the 2013 provincial election, when BC United was known as the B.C. Liberals. Polls at the time showed the party trailing.

“I really believe very confidently that by the time the public pays attention, we’re going to surprise every­one just like we did in 2013,” Falcon told about 100 people at the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce meeting at the Delta Hotels Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort.

British Columbian voters won’t go for the extreme left or extreme right, said Falcon, who is positioning his party in the middle of the political spectrum. “We will be the adults in the room.”

Falcon told members of the chamber he’s confident the party won’t lose any more MLAs.

His speech follows an appearance by Premier David Eby at the end of April. B.C. Conservative leader John Rustad is set to speak to the chamber on June 19.

Asked if he would be prepared to continue trying to work with the B.C. Conservatives to avoid splitting the vote on the right, Falcon said that when he reached out to the Conservatives, they said no.

He pointed to the differences between the parties, including Rustad’s position on climate change — Rustad was kicked out of the B.C. Liberals in 2022 for suggesting climate change was not caused by carbon dioxide emissions.

That position puts Rustad at odds with most British Columbians, Falcon said.

The BC United leader told the chamber audience that he’s aware that small businesses are facing challenges ranging from taxes and red tape to social disorder and chaos on the streets.

“This has just been brutal, frankly, for a lot of of small businesses and they are hanging on by their fingernails.”

The NDP government’s program to decriminalize possession of small amounts of illicit drugs has been a “total disaster,” he said. Even though the province has now banned public drug use after a backlash, “The entire thing has to go,” Falcon said

Under a BC United government, secure treatment facilities would be set up around the province to help people with untreated mental-health conditions go into care, involuntarily if necessary, he said.

Those centres would deliver “proper psychiatric and medical support so that they can be treated compassionately and lovingly with the goal of having them move back into the communities where the proper supports are there for them,” Falcon said.

The party’s plans also include eliminating provincial fuel taxes and putting the brakes on carbon-tax increases to help reduce the cost of living.

BC United unveiled a new child-care policy, promising to top up payments for families who have not been able to take advantage of the $10-per-day child-care program.

Child care is not a social policy but an economic-development initiative, Falcon said. “It helps gets young working women and men get back into the workforce. That’s really good for the economy.”

The Angus Reid Institute carried out its online survey from May 24 to 27 among a representative randomized sample of 1,203 British Columbian adults belonging to the Angus Reid Forum.

The poll carries a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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