MLA Lorne Doerkson moves from BC United to BC Conservative MLA


Lorne Doerkson, the MP for Cariboo-Chilcotin, has switched sides to join the ranks of the British Columbia Conservatives.

Doerkson made the announcement on Friday, flanked by British Columbia Conservative Party leader John Rustad.

He described it as the hardest decision of his life, motivated by the inability of BC United and the British Columbia Conservatives to agree to work together ahead of the upcoming October election, and by pressure from his electorate, who were desperate to see a Conservative in their constituency.

“Recent events have really shown that my residents … want a Conservative to represent them,” Doerkson said. “I think they really feel that this is the only alternative to the NDP right now.”

Doerkson was first elected in 2020 and served as caucus chair for BC United.

“I am of course excited about the prospects of what appears to me to be one of the greatest grassroots movements in political history,” he said.

In a statement to CTV News on Friday, BC United minced words about Doerkson's decision, claiming it was “driven by concern for poll numbers and a desire to protect its publicly funded pensions.”

“We are disappointed to hear that Lorne Doerkson has decided to join John Rustad's BC Conservatives, which includes anti-LGBTQ+, anti-abortion, and COVID-19/UN conspiracy theorist candidates,” wrote BC United spokesman Adam Wilson. “He will have to defend this decision on the only vote that really matters – Election Day.”

Doerkson's departure came a week after BC United chairman Kevin Falcon announced that talks to reach an agreement between the two parties had broken down. Falcon blamed Rustad for “torturing” a last-minute agreement, but Rustad called the proposed deal “irrational.”

While there were rumors prior to Friday's announcement, which Rustad called “important” in his press release, those rumors were all but confirmed around noon when Doerkson's clothes, boxes and a crockpot were discovered in the hallway outside the BC United Caucus offices. During the press conference, he admitted he had asked to clear out his belongings before the announcement.

Doerkson's joining the Conservatives increases their party's membership to three MPs, one more than the BC Greens. His loss reduces BC United to 25 MPs. The BC NDP currently has 55 MPs and there are two independent MPs.

There has been wild speculation that other BC United members are being courted by the BC Conservatives, including Surrey MP Elenore Sturko. When asked about other BC United members joining the BC Conservatives, Rustad acknowledged that he is in talks with Sturko and other BC United candidates, but declined to comment further.

“Of course, I will talk to anyone who is interested in talking to us – and these conversations will be treated confidentially,” Rustad said.

Polls over the past few months have consistently shown the BC Conservatives making strong gains – largely at the expense of BC United – and gaining significant ground on the NDP. The latest poll, released Thursday by the Angus Reid Institute, shows 41 per cent of decided or leaning voters supporting the NDP, while 30 per cent of respondents intend to vote for the BC Conservatives. BC United, formerly the BC Liberals, lagged far behind with just 16 per cent support. The BC Greens were able to draw on the support of 11 per cent of respondents.