Canaccord founder Peter Brown warns against right-wing B.C. election fracture

Prominent Vancouver businessman Peter Brown sent a dire warning to the B.C. Conservative Party that a lack of centre-right unity is akin to support for ...

Prominent Vancouver businessman Peter Brown sent a dire warning to the B.C. Conservative Party that a lack of centre-right unity is akin to support for the New Democratic Party and will put the province's economy in grave jeopardy. 

"It is critical that those on the centre-right remain committed, coherent and robust and that those who contribute to fragmentation of the centre right vote come to realize that they are an unintended political ally of the left," wrote Canaccord Capital founder Brown in a five-page letter addressed to Al Siebring of the B.C. Conservative Party's executive council.

"In the world we live in today, fragmentation on the right could be a disastrous scenario for our province and its economic opportunities."

Brown, 70, wrote that it is "very important to keep the free enterprise forces in B.C. aligned under one political umbrella going into the next election," but did not mention the B.C. Liberal Party or Premier Christy Clark, who is trailing in opinion polls.

Brown wrote, "In B.C., investment decisions are starting to be deferred for fear that the change to a left of centre government would create similar uncertainties in respect to a very similar list of issues that is proving to be so detrimental to the U.S. economy. If the NDP were elected it would most likely be a two-term government and the investors remember all too well the lost decade of the '90s when our province was ranked 9th in Canada for economic growth.

"We all know that there is a direct link between investment and employment, particularly employment of our youth and we also need to consider the fact that all or part of the $35 billion of capital projects that are in various stages of planning in Northern B.C. could well be jeopardized."

Brown summarized the problems with the European, U.S. and even Asian economies, and said that "there are more problems in more places with less leadership than anytime in my lifetime."

Brown warned that future generations could have lower incomes, higher taxes, less services, higher youth unemployment, larger government debt, higher education costs and lower pensions. He said there is potential of higher levels of social unrest among youth "that rightly feel disadvantaged by their predecessors."

B.C. Conservative Party policy and platform chair Al Siebring said Brown's letter laid out "an excellent case for fiscal conservatism; precisely the kind of positions that the B.C. Conservative Party is advocating."

But Siebring was critical of Brown's implication that the Conservatives are responsible for the fragmented free enterprise coalition.

"I certainly appreciate Mr. Brown's point that, from his perspective, the goal is to keep the NDP out of power. However, if we in the B.C. Conservatives were to fold our tent tomorrow, it's clear the Liberals would lose the next election in any event," Siebring told Business in Vancouver in an email copied to Brown.

"I trust that over time, Mr. Brown will come to see that the B.C. Conservative Party is not the problem in B.C.'s 'centre-right coalition.' The problem is the Liberals, both in terms of their present policy direction and their lack of credible leadership."

An Angus Reid public opinion poll published today found the economy is the leading issue and the NDP's Adrian Dix is the most favoured leader.

Overall, 45% of respondents are decided on or leaning towards NDP, 23% support the Liberals and 22% are for Conservatives. The B.C. Green Party has 8% support.

BMackin@biv.com

@bobmackin

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