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Kevin Falcon abandons Liberals with party name change

February 10, 2023 at 3:16 pm  Politics, Provincial

This op-ed was originally published in the Daily Hive. By NDP MLA Katrina Chen.

Last week, BC Liberal Leader Kevin Falcon announced that his party will change its name to the BC United Party (BCUP).

It’s not just a superficial name change. It reflects a deliberate choice by Kevin Falcon to abandon Liberal values and embrace a more extreme, Conservative approach.

Kevin Falcon has always been a conservative politician and a supporter of the federal Conservative Party. So it’s no surprise that since becoming BC Liberal Leader, he’s been working to shift his party away from the federal Liberals and align himself more closely with the federal Conservatives.

In 2017 he endorsed hard-right candidate Maxime Bernier for leader of the Conservative Party and raised $130,000 for Bernier’s campaign.

He recently staged a photo op with Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, a strong supporter of the extreme anti-vaccine “freedom” convoy protest that illegally shut down Ottawa. The photo op with Poilievre was a calculated move by Falcon to appeal to Conservative voters, including radical anti-vaxxers.

In fact, Falcon himself has remained silent while several of his own BC Liberal MLAs have spoken out against vaccine requirements and supported the anti-vaxxer convoy.

Falcon has said that the name change is about ensuring people don’t associate him with the federal Liberals. He said recently that “voters do get confused with our name because they connect us with the federal [Liberal] party.”

He says he wants his party to be “a very big, big tent.” Let’s be clear: when Falcon says he wants a “big tent,” he’s talking about making room in his party for people with extreme views.

In the last election, the BC Liberal “big tent” meant welcoming candidates like Margaret Kunst, who opposed Pride crosswalks in her community.

It meant defending BC Liberal MLA Laurie Throness, who supported the abusive practice of sending LGBTQ+ kids to conversion therapy.

And now, Falcon’s “big tent” means tolerating radical anti-vaccine views and allowing his MLAs to vote against abortion rights.

This name change is a signal that these types of far-right views are still welcome under Falcon’s leadership.

For so many British Columbians, these views are unacceptable in a mainstream political party. And I’ve heard from so many people who have walked away from the BC Liberals because of it.

As journalist and former BC Liberal MLA Jas Johal recently said, “There are no Federal Liberals left in the coalition that once was the BC Liberals.”

In recent years, so many former BC Liberal supporters who don’t like the party’s Conservative direction have started supporting the BC NDP.

Unlike Falcon’s party, we refuse to tolerate homophobia. We ensure every one of our MLAs stands behind abortion rights. We have elected the most diverse group of MLAs in BC’s history — including the first-ever caucus with more women than men. And we have taken a strongly science-first approach to tackle the pandemic and climate change.

So if you’re one of so many British Columbians who feel left behind by Kevin Falcon’s conservative approach, please know that David Eby and all of us in the BC NDP share your values. We’re here for you.

Please join us as we build a better province for everyone.

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