Dan Brooks visits the B.C. legislature in 2015, during a province-wide swing to recruit B.C. Conservative candidates. He quit, citing business and family responsibilities, returned to win the leadership last year, but was fired by the party board. (Black Press files)

B.C. Conservatives’ late revival questioned

BC Liberals say long-time NDP supporter helping to split the vote

Having fired their latest leader late last year, with no replacement in sight, the BC Conservatives are working to get as many as 30 candidates on the ballot for the May 9 provincial election.

With three candidates declared and another dozen in the candidate vetting process, the party is getting as many people to run as they can by the deadline in April, party spokesman John Twigg said this week.

Twigg said in an interview from Campbell River he is considering seeking a seat himself, and the party is looking at its leadership options after two-time leader Dan Brooks was removed from office by the party board on a legal technicality last fall.

BC Liberals are finding that hard to believe, given Twigg’s long history as an NDP supporter that goes back to his days as press secretary for former premier Dave Barrett in the 1970s. Bill Bennett, who is retiring after 16 years as BC Liberal MLA for Kootenay East, cited Twigg’s multiple donations to the NDP in recent years, including $300 to John Horgan’s leadership campaign.

“It is a transparent and rather sad attempt by the NDP to muster up a vote split going into this provincial election, and it is I think a pretty obvious indication of just how desperate they must be,” Bennett said Monday.

“The idea that John Twigg could have experienced a sudden conversion to conservatism after a lifetime of socialism, it cannot be believed. It’s about like me saying that I’ve suddenly converted to the NDP.”

Twigg said he left the NDP over its gender equity policy for candidates, and he considers himself more pro-development than most members of that party.

“We have a major economic development platform coming,” Twigg said, including an announcement in Nanaimo this week.

Both Bennett and Twigg agreed that vote splitting is an issue in B.C. elections, with the NDP benefiting from BC Conservative candidates and the BC Liberals being helped by BC Green support.

Twigg said he isn’t concerned about the BC Liberals singling him out.

“I hope they do,” he said. “It just draws attention to us. They are corrupt and it’s time they were out, and this kind of junk they do is a good example.”

So far the BC Conservatives have nominated candidates in Kelowna-Mission, Cariboo North and Courtenay-Comox.

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