Businessman Peter Brown worried about B.C. Conservative Party splitting the right-wing vote

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      Peter Brown’s words carry a lot of weight. After all, he’s one of the most powerful businessmen in the province. In political circles, he’s been a generous donor to former and present ruling parties, namely the old B.C. Social Credit and the current B.C. Liberals.

      So when Brown tells board members of the B.C. Conservative Party that they’re playing a dangerous game by dividing the vote on the right, one might expect them to toe the line. But his words appear to have fallen on deaf ears.

      Party policy chair Al Siebring was one of those who received a letter dated July 5. In it, Brown, the founder and chair of Canaccord Financial Inc., calls for unity among the “free enterprise forces”. This comes as the left-wing B.C. NDP carries a significant lead in opinion polls over the ruling B.C. Liberal Party.

      “Mr. Brown lays out a good case for fiscal conservatism and a lot of the kinds of positions that we as a party have been advocating for,” Siebring told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview. “But where he loses me is with the line where he says it’s critical that those who contribute to the fragmentation of centre-right come to realize that they are the unintended ally of the left. Left unsaid there—the intent is clear, of course—is the notion that we somehow are responsible for the fragmentation. From my perspective, to the degree that centre-right is being fragmented in B.C., it’s not the B.C. Conservative Party that’s responsible for the problem.”

      According to Siebring, a two-term North Cowichan councillor, the B.C. Liberals would lose the May 2013 election even if his party were to fold its tent. “I think the die is cast for next May,” he said.

      Siebring added that talks about uniting the right may have to wait until after next year’s election.

      In his letter, Brown lays out what needs to be done. “It should be obvious that it is very important to keep the free enterprise forces in B.C. aligned under one political umbrella going into the next election as political fragmentation, in my view, will serve to aggravate the negative business community and investor reaction to a possible NDP win in 2013,” he wrote.

      Brown did not respond to a Straight request for interview.

      Philip Hochstein, president of the nonunionized Independent Contractors and Businesses Association of B.C., has given up hoping for unity between the right-wing parties.

      “I think it’s clear that we’re going to go on to the next election with two right-of-centre parties,” Hochstein told the Straight by phone. “The B.C. Liberals and B.C. Conservatives are committed to running separately, despite people’s wishes to bring them together. It’s just not going to happen.”

      According to B.C. Liberal spokesperson Sam Oliphant, a committee within the party may recommend a new name for the organization when members gather for a convention in the fall. Results of an online survey conducted by Angus Reid between July 3 and 5 show that Premier Christy Clark’s B.C. Liberal Party has sunk to 23 percent in voter support, losing half of the 46-percent level it garnered in the 2009 election.

      New Democrats gained three points, rising from 42 percent in the last election to 45 percent in the new poll. The John Cummins–led B.C. Conservatives made great strides from a mere two percent in May 2009 to 22 percent. The Angus Reid survey of 801 respondents has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.

      Comments

      14 Comments

      SPY vs SPY

      Jul 26, 2012 at 6:32am

      YUP

      Dem, Socred - Reform - Alliance - Conservative - What-cha-ma-call-its,
      Liberals is going down.

      Dey is Really going down, we de people is really gonna Party Like Mad Men come next election.

      Teedeer

      Jul 26, 2012 at 7:41am

      John Cummins is a fool and there is no fool like an old fool.

      hg

      Jul 26, 2012 at 9:08am

      Possibly if the free enterprise parties would stop lining the pockets of their friends and selling out BC it would improve their fortunes
      hg

      pippatch

      Jul 26, 2012 at 9:48am

      I think these guys are out of touch with most of BC. We just want the liberals and their cronies GONE!

      Burlap Stevens

      Jul 26, 2012 at 10:47am

      Peter is absolutely correct. But here is the situation. Christy has become so negatively branded that there she is beyond repair. If Christy stays, then the party is doomed and the NDP will take over. I will vote for the conservatives, but I do so knowing that some of the best MLAs are in the Liberal Party. One of two things has to happen here for BC to not have to suffer another NDP government:

      Plan A:

      1. Christy resigns immediately - for the good of the party - and we pick a real leader.

      Plan B:

      1. MLAs - Abbott, Falcon, Hawes, Lake, Coell (retired), Hayer (retired),De Jong, Krueger, Letnik, Bennett, Rustad, Yamamoto, Lekstrom, Barisoff, Bell, Reid, Cadieux and Foster - all these fine folks should cross the floor NOW.

      2. Cummins is in his mid 70's and ready to retire. Let one of the new conservatives take the party and rebuild the free enterprise coalition! Hell... if we had time, we could do it before the election, but we don't. So Kevin Falcon.... swallow your pride and keep your eye on the end game! It is a sad day when having an NDP government is more palatable than a Christy Clark government.

      I now believe that Christy only ran to block the BC Rail data from getting out. She has done nothing to prove otherwise. BC Rail is coming out whether anyone likes it or not. You can read my lips on that one!

      Finally, don't be fooled by this "all of a sudden fight" between Redford and Clark. I believe it's staged. It is Christy's "hail mary" pass for a touchdown prior to the election. She knows that she needs a miracle and I think she's set the fight up to give her a platform to appear to be fighting for BC. I have news for you Christy. It's the one thing you've done that truly is transparent. Christy, you are no longer the answer. You are the question... to which the answer is "No."

      Evil Eye

      Jul 26, 2012 at 10:48am

      So, this Peter Brown chap would rather have an utterly corrupt Liberal party, with premier photo-op in charge of BC, than the NDP? Seems that this Brown character lacks moral fibre.

      cosmicsync

      Jul 26, 2012 at 1:45pm

      I share Mr. Brown's concerns about vote splitting.

      In both the 2005 and 2009 elections, the Green party managed to siphon off enough votes from progressive voters to ensure the election of the BC Liberals, while not electing a single MLA themselves. The 2009 election also saw the shameful endorsement of the Gordon Campbell government by Tzeporah Berman and Straight contributor David Suzuki.

      While the NDP enjoys a seemingly insurmountable lead at the moment, political fortunes can change quickly.

      I couldn't give you an exhaustive list of areas where the Green party and BCNDP differ ideologically, but I can tell you one major difference: the BCNDP is electable in 2013.

      Green party supporters need to ask themselves if it is worth risking another upset victory for the BC Liberals - with the Queen of politically expedient flip-flops on any issue, including the environment - at the helm.

      If progressive voters cannot unite around the goal of actually forming government, the Peter Browns and Philip Hochsteins - and Stephen Harpers - will continue to win the day.

      election

      Jul 26, 2012 at 2:20pm

      the bc lieberals are dead and not coming back.....time for Peter Brown to get behind the Conservatives

      Freddie

      Jul 26, 2012 at 10:33pm

      I think it is definately safe to say that certain business should be concerned if the NDP swept into power forsure... but these are the kinds of operations where there would be very little lost love from the people of this province anyway.

      Also having said that, Peter, you seem to forget that the single biggest and most costly charge ever levied against businesses in this province came from the BC Liberals: the whole HST fiasco.

      I think the best medicine the conservative base can take would help remove the sense of denial that seems to plague the membership. Accept the truth, mate. Your recent decisons and perspectives do not jive with constituents. Be gentlemen and ladies - swallow the pill and move on.

      Your membership is in tatters an you need to focus on rebuilding a foundation that is respectable, contemporary and capable of serving as functional power base.

      The coming election is going to wipe you out.

      GZLFB

      Jul 27, 2012 at 1:16am

      Honest right and minarchist/classic liberals are welcomed to the more trust worthy BC Conservatives. Especially in ridings a BC Liberal never wins in like West End and Hastings. The BC Liberal Party can not be trusted, the NDP will cause damage, but it's likely the damage they promised. The BC Liberals are like voting right and getting socialist.