BC United caucus chair Lorne Doerkson defects to Conservatives

The caucus chair for the BC United party is defecting to the BC Conservatives, adding to the woes of the province’s official opposition.

Lorne Doerkson, who represents Cariboo-Chilcotin, and BC Conservative Leader John Rustad announced the move that increases the party’s numbers in the legislature to three.

The floor-crossing on Friday came after talks between the two right-of-centre parties broke down amid failure to settle on a deal to avoid vote splitting in the fall provincial election.

Doerkson said in a statement that he made the move from BC United because the election set for October is “simply too consequential” and his constituents want to see a Conservative government.

He said the BC Conservatives were the only party capable of defeating the current NDP government.

“I look forward to working with John Rustad and the Conservative team. Whether it is axing the carbon tax, revitalizing our resource sector or reforming our broken health-care system, it’s never been more clear that BC needs a common sense government,” he said.

Doerkson was first elected in 2020 and has served as BC United’s shadow minister for water, land and resource stewardship and rural development, and emergency management and climate readiness.

Rustad said in the statement that Doerkson would be a strong BC Conservative MLA for the riding.

“Lorne has been a tireless advocate for his region and the vital resources within it. Whether it’s natural resources or small business, Lorne is an individual who puts his constituents first and that is exactly the kind of advocate we need in the legislature,” he said.

Both Rustad and fellow BC Conservative Bruce Banman were previously members of BC United under the party’s former name, the BC Liberals.

The standings in the current 87-seat B.C. legislature are: 55 NDP, 25 BC United, three B.C. Greens, two B.C. Conservatives and two Independents.

Recent polling suggested BC United is currently at 12 per cent of the popular vote with less than five months before the election.

Rustad has said he plans to field a full slate of candidates in all 93 B.C. ridings in October, raising the prospect of vote-splitting with BC United that could favour the NDP.