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Conservative Party Leader Pierre Poilievre speaks during a rally in Ottawa on March 24.Spencer Colby/The Canadian Press

As federal Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre prepares to hold a rally Monday on Vancouver Island, a new poll suggests the provincial Conservative Party in British Columbia is benefiting from his popularity even though there are no official links between the two parties.

Fifty-six per cent of likely federal Conservative voters support the provincial Conservatives instead of BC United, the other centre-right party, according to a survey by the Angus Reid Institute.

The same poll found two in five federal Conservative supporters say they don’t know BC Conservative Leader John Rustad, but those who do are more positive than not in their views of him.

The Angus Reid findings are based on an online survey conducted between Feb. 28 and March 6, with a random survey of 809 adult respondents. It has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

The Poilievre effect appears to be having a striking impact on politics in British Columbia, with the provincial Conservative Party, which has two members in the 87-seat legislature, lately surging in support over the Official Opposition BC United party, which has 26 seats.

At one time, the BC United party ran under the name BC Liberals, and was the dominant party challenging the NDP in the province. The NDP currently governs under Premier David Eby and holds 55 seats.

BC Liberals governed from 2001 to 2017 under premiers Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark. BC United’s current leader, Kevin Falcon, was a senior cabinet minster for both premiers.

As the two conservative parties in the province challenge each other, both highlight their links to Mr. Poilievre.

On March 12, BC Conservative Leader John Rustad posted on X, noting that his party stands with Mr. Poilievre in calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mr. Eby to “axe the tax” – eliminate carbon pricing. The posting featured side-by-side headshots of Mr. Poilievre and Mr. Rustad.

Two days later, Mr. Falcon, speaking for BC United, posted on X with an image of him shaking Mr. Poilievre’s hand, and saying he joins Conservative and Liberal premiers from across Canada “in standing with Pierre Poilievre’s call to spike the hike. British Columbians simply cannot afford another David Eby NDP carbon tax hike.”

British Columbia and Quebec have their own carbon-pricing systems, which means the federal carbon price is not applied there. In 2008, B.C. introduced North America’s first broad-based pricing on carbon.

The provincial Conservatives have promised to scrap provincial carbon pricing. BC United would remove the levy if the federal Conservatives win power in the next election and get rid of it nationwide.

In Nanaimo on Monday, Mr. Poilievre make his case for axing federal carbon pricing.

“There’s no question there has been some overlap and help from that,” provincial Conservative Leader John Rustad said in an interview about Mr. Poilievre’s campaigning.

“We appreciate that, obviously,” he said.

Mr. Rustad said he has met Mr. Poilievre a few times, and some members of his party support the policies of the federal party, but that there is no official link between the two.

Mr. Rustad once served as a cabinet minister with the BC Liberals, holding the Aboriginal relations and forests portfolios under Ms. Clark. He was removed from the BC Liberals by Mr. Falcon in August, 2022, for sharing a post on social media questioning climate change.

Shachi Kurl, president of the Angus Reid Institute, said that even though Mr. Rustad is quite unknown to many British Columbians, and certainly less well-known than BC United Leader Mr. Falcon, his party is receiving the same level of support.

“So that does speak to the power of branding and the power of the Conservative label and that is very clearly lifting the BC Conservative Party.”

The Angus Reid analysis indicates that the net favorability of Mr. Rustad is higher than that of Mr. Falcon.

Political scientist Hamish Telford of the University of the Fraser Valley said he has seen no sign that Mr. Poilievre is specifically favouring one of the centre-right parties over the other – he has been taking on Mr. Eby, most recently over carbon pricing.

“But I do think it’s the case that BC Conservatives are benefiting simply by brand recognition by Mr. Poilievre’s popularity,” he said.

Mr. Falcon was not available for an interview, but Adam Wilson, communications director for BC United, said the BC Conservatives are “a non-serious party who received 1.91 per cent of the vote in 2020 with no affiliation to the federal Conservative Party of Canada.”

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