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'Like the Wizard of Oz': Renee Merrifield says she's waiting for the 'curtain' to be pulled with BC Conservatives

Renee Merrifield has dismissed the Conservative Party of BC’s apparent surge in popularity, stressing that recent polls are “not based in anything that’s real.”

The Kelowna–Mission MLA, who also serves as BC United’s shadow minister for the environment and technology, said her party was the one “the majority of British Columbians felt comfortable with” in the past “and we will be that again.”

Her strong defence of the province’s official opposition comes after a series of shock polls over the last six months suggested John Rustad’s party was first catching up, and then leapfrogging, BC United.

Two recent polls have even shown the BC Conservatives ahead of the BC NDP.

One pollster said in April that BC United was “facing political wipeout,” while another said last week the party could be headed toward its “demise.”

<who> Photo credit: NowMedia </who> Renee Merrifield earlier this year.

But Merrifield told NowMedia she’s not convinced by the insurgent BC Conservatives, whose party, which is more than a century old, has no connection to the federal Tories.

“I am [still confident],” she said, “because in the end, I kind of feel like it’s the Wizard of Oz right now. I kind of feel like at one point the curtain is going to get pulled, and all of a sudden it's going to be like, Oh, that's the wizard? That's what we're saying yes to?”

Merrifield also laid into the BC Conservatives’ work ethic, saying that, while she’s debated “20 different bills this session,” she could “probably count on one hand how many times I’ve had a BC Conservative actually get up and speak to a bill.”

Their small number – they have two MLAs, both of whom previously represented BC United, while BC United has 26 – isn’t an excuse, Merrifield said.

The BC Greens, she said, have the same number of MLAs as the BC Conservatives and yet they “have been involved in every single bill debate and every single estimates debate that has gone on in this session, and they're still out there with interviews and media availability.”

She added: “It’s not about how many people you’ve got, it's: Are you actually working? And I can tell you that I don't see it. They're not out there. They're not.”

<who> Photo credit: John Rustad/X

The polls, in Merrifield's view, represent only “a snapshot moment in time,” but there are other ways to measure a party’s strength, she said.

One is “what we’re hearing from people.”

“Someone asked me the other day, ‘Well, how do you differ on policy to the BC Conservatives?’ I said, ‘I would love to tell you that, but they don't have policy out. They have nothing out.’ So I couldn't actually compare and contrast.”

She admitted, however, that the parties are “very aligned on most things,” though “people are the most comfortable when we’re in that right-of-centre position.”

“Our heart’s on the left, but our pocketbook’s on the right,” she explained, mentioning the likes of childcare, housing and the health system.

Another source of confidence for Merrifield is the latest data on fundraising.

<who> Photo credit: BC Legislature </who> Renee Merrifield at work in the BC Legislative Assembly. She has accused the BC Conservatives of not putting enough time into debates.

According to Elections BC figures released earlier this month, BC United raised more than $830,000 in the first three months of 2024.

The BC NDP raised the most with over $1.1 million, while the BC Conservatives attracted over $380,000 in donations.

Despite that being a considerable improvement on recent fundraising efforts for the BC Conservatives, “it’s really not that much money,” Merrifield said.

“So, for me, it's like, the polls are saying this, but this is what I'm hearing, and this is where people's money is going, and this is who we are in the House,” she said.

And what about the NDP?

“We do not want the three downgrades that the NDP have had,” she said. “We do not want the frivolous spending without results that the NDP have had.

“Someone said the other day, Oh, you're just going to cut, and I was like, Are you kidding me? That is not what it's about. It's about smarter spending, and about getting results for what you spent – does anyone really want to spend and not get results? I don't think so.”

The provincial election must be held on or before Oct. 19, 2024.

To see our recent interview with BC Conservatives Leader John Rustad, head here:

For our most recent interview with BC United's leader, Kevin Falcon, head here:

For our recent interview with the BC NDP's Ravi Parmar, head here:

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