FORSETH – Latest poll numbers bad news for Rustad and BC Conservatives

MAY 9, 2023: Information in a new poll released today from Research Co. shows:

Public backing for the governing BC New Democratic Party (NDP) has increased over the past three months in British Columbia, a new Research Co. poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative provincial sample, 46% of decided voters would support the BC NDP candidate in their constituency if an election took place today, up two points since a similar Research Co. poll conducted in February.

BC United is in second place with 33% (-3 since the previous survey as BC Liberals), followed by the BC Green Party with 16% (=) and the Conservative Party of BC with 4% (+2).

It also shows that:

Premier and BC NDP leader David Eby maintains an approval rating of 59% across the province. The numbers are lower for BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau (40%, -2), BC United leader Kevin Falcon (38%, -6) and BC Conservative leader John Rustad (18%).

Another version showing the popularity of each party leader, published today in Business in Vancouver expanded on that last point by stating:

Conservative supporters, who may have expected their party to reach double digits after finding a leader who actually has a seat in the legislative assembly, may be disappointed. The approval rating for John Rustad stands at 18 per cent – significantly lower than the numbers posted by the three people who command the other main provincial parties: Premier and BC NDP leader David Eby (59 per cent, unchanged), BC Greens leader Sonia Furstenau (40 per cent, down two points) and BC United leader Kevin Falcon (38 per cent, down six points).

All of this, and other findings in the poll, are not good news for supporters and members of the Conservative Party of BC (full disclosure, while not currently a member, I have twice been a member of the party, and was active in campaigns, as well as providing research information and formulating media releases for the party).

Looking over concerns noted by BC residents, in the poll, their specific focus on the validity of COVID vaccinations, and freedoms as espoused by the so-called Truckers Convoy are just not there – with the exception, to some extent, to vaccinations.

Instead, the poll shows BC voters are MOST concerned with Housing, Homelessness, and Poverty as their #1 issue … #2 is Healthcare, in 3rd is Crime and Public Safety, while the Economy and Jobs is in 4th spot.

Where the Conservatives could have some traction, in looking at these numbers, are in the areas of healthcare, and public safety.

Rustad has already been vocal in a demand for the re-hiring of doctors and nurses who had refused to receive a COVID vaccine, including these comments made in a March 30 news story in the Prince George Citizen:

“Even (Prime Minister Justin) Trudeau’s Health Minister (Jean-Yves Duclos) admits the immunity of individuals who were twice vaccinated in 2021 has now waned,” Rustad said. “There is no scientific reason why health-care workers who have chosen not to receive shots should continue to be barred from working side by side with their colleagues who were twice vaccinated in 2021. This policy makes zero sense.”

Even if those numbers (of doctors and nurses) only amount to a few thousand healthcare workers, given the extreme shortages being seen across the province, having them back caring for patients would be a huge boost. Still, the Conservatives need to have more of a broad-based healthcare platform – especially ideas on how to get out of the crisis we are currently in, with having such a shortage of doctors and nurses available – especially given the federal government’s plans to greatly increase immigration.

As for Housing?

Honestly, it seems everything governments at all levels do, only makes things worse. I don’t know what the answer is to affordable housing – both for those who rent and those who want to own – but unless we want to see even more people homeless, including the working poor, we’d better come up with something soon.

One thing that didn’t make the list is the Carbon Tax, which the Conservative Party of BC has indicated they will eliminate. The one flaw in that, and which no one seems to have questioned, is what will replace it? The federal government has enacted legislation that a “TAX” on carbon has to be in place, and if not applied at the provincial level, the federal government will do it for them. With that in mind, what then will Conservatives do, because something MUST be in place? They can’t simply say they’ll eliminate … they have to have a way to circumvent federal law, or at least have it apply more fairly (i.e. not on home heating fuel).

A decade ago, Conservatives in BC, under former MP John Cummins, ran the largest number of candidates ever (56) … although it was still 29 short of a full slate. In 2017 the party ran just 10 candidates, and in the last provincial election in 2020, they fielded just 19 candidates out of a total 87 ridings.

Then party leader Trevor Bolin, running in his Peace River North riding, managed a very respectful 34.3%, but it wasn’t enough to unseat Liberal Dan Davies who won the riding with just under 56%. In fact, no Conservative candidates were elected.

Just three short weeks ago Conservative BC leader John Rustad stated, “It has never been more clear, there is only one choice for conservatives in British Columbia and there is only one choice for voters who want real change.

“If British Columbians want change, they will have the option to vote for a Conservative Party of British Columbia candidate in every riding in our big, beautiful province. And, unlike other opposition parties, the Conservative Party of British Columbia is not ‘united’ with Trudeau’s Liberals or the BC NDP.”

Since first being elected to the BC Legislature in 2005 with over 50% of ballots cast, Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad has won five straight provincial elections (2005, 2009, 2013, 2017, and 2020), averaging nearly 54% of the vote.

John has a big job ahead of him in taking a party that captured just 2% of votes in 2020, and distributed amongst 19 candidates, to a full slate of ‘electable’ candidates across every riding in the province.

They’ll talk the talk, and say there’re in it to capture enough seats to win government in the next provincial election, which is slated for Oct. 19 of next year (2024) – that, of course, if current NDP Premier David Eby doesn’t pull the plug before that.

Personally, I believe if they can run candidates in all of the Peace River, Thompson and Okanagan, Cariboo, Fraser Valley, and a handful in the Rockies / Kootenay’s, metro-Vancouver and Vancouver Island ridings, along with John’s Nechako riding, I think they’ll be doing good.

And an election day result?

They should be delighted, I think, if they can capture at least half a dozen ridings, which will more than give them enough seats to gain party status, and the additional staffing that comes with that.

That will ONLY happen, however, in my opinion, if they can present a broad enough platform that will attract a broad swath of voters from not just the right side of the political spectrum, but if they can pull from center right voters like myself, who consider themselves to be fiscal conservatives, with what I call a ‘social conscience’.

Right now, I’m not seeing that, but there’s still over a year and a half to go till the 2024 provincial general election.

In Kamloops, I’m Alan Forseth … what do you think?

Alan Forseth is a Kamloops resident. For 40 years he has been active, in a number of capacities, in local, provincial and federal politics, including running as a candidate for the BC Reform Party in the 1996 provincial election. He more recently was involved in the BC Liberal leadership campaign.

About Mel Rothenburger (9634 Articles) is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

2 Comments on FORSETH – Latest poll numbers bad news for Rustad and BC Conservatives

  1. What do I think? I think the B.C. conservatives are out of touch with reality on many files. It is too bad because I want to vote for a party that is articulate, dynamic, science/reason-based and not easily swayed by trends like woke and the like.
    Also, the current government is actually working quite a bit on the affordable housing issue, in case you haven’t noticed Allan. But you must remember that no one can snap fingers and have affordable housing magically appear. It takes time to approve, design and build housing. And definitely the weather-related disasters and other weird manifestations of such as of late (as in the last few years) are undeniably caused by human activities. Denying that is alchemy. Lastly I think much in the way of accountability needs to be introduced across the medical field to address our tremendous challenges in health care. The medical field is a bastion of money and privilege and that, in face of evidence, is wrong in my opinion.

  2. Rustad’s support in favor of re-hiring of doctors and nurses who had refused to receive a COVID vaccine, is enough for me to take a pass on that party electorally.

    I recognize that its a single issue decision which is an approach that can be problematic on its own, but I have chosen to take a stand against those who through fear, panic and an inability to see the long game at all, behaved poorly during the worst days of the pandemic, triple so for healthcare workers.

    The rest of us did what was needed to be done (vaccines, mask mandates and proper support for both each other as well as our healthcare workers) and because of that, it is now … for the most part … over. Those people who were problems of this type during that time, benefit now due to the actions of the rest of us.

    Those who did that (especially in the healthcare field) in my opinion … are pariah. I am not willing … yet … to let it go. I expect it to take a long time.

    Healthcare workers specifically who didn’t vax, with no reasonable health reason, especially those who publicly espoused their anti beliefs … don’t need their job back.

    If I was working in a health care setting and one of these people arrived to work alongside me after protesting outside the hospital or at the park or elsewhere, because they were rehired … I would have a problem working beside them. I would not be able to trust their judgement which is a critically important need in that working environment.

    I continue to support healthcare workers, by promoting protecting them from this pressure by drawing this line in the sand. It was correct to fire them, and they should not be rehired.

    Politicians who call for rehiring them … I wont support.

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