ELECTION 2015: Tories rally business allies against NDP win

James Moore, Stockwell Day stoke memories of B.C. in 1990s, warn federal NDP win would devastate economy

Former senior Conservative cabinet minister Stockwell Day and Industry Minister James Moore

Former senior Conservative cabinet minister Stockwell Day and Industry Minister James Moore

A leaked Conservative letter to B.C. business leaders is urging them to pull out the stops to fight a potential NDP federal election victory that it warns would devastate the province’s economy.

“This election will be decided in B.C.,” said the letter from Industry Minister James Moore and former Conservative cabinet minister Stockwell Day.

“We could end up with an NDP national government,” they said, predicting the result will be “higher taxes and a broken economy.”

Although neither is a candidate in this election, the two Tories said they will take their message on the road and urged business leaders to work with them to convince voters to re-elect the Harper government and reject the “dangerous policies” of the NDP.

The letter also takes aim at Liberal leader Justin Trudeau’s plan to cancel LNG tax incentives.

But it mainly targets the provincial NDP’s record governing in the 1990s, saying it directly led to B.C. becoming a “have-not” province with 50,000 residents forced to leave to find work elsewhere.

“Now is not the time for risky experiments.”

It echoes the B.C. Liberals’ economy-first attacks against “risky” Adrian Dix that helped persuade voters to reject the NDP in the 2013 provincial election, despite an early polling lead for the New Democrats.

Philip Hochstein, president of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association of B.C., said he hopes the message resonates with voters.

“I think the federal Conservatives are right to remind British Columbians about the lost decade of an NDP government,” he said, adding business leaders could be influential.

“We have a history under the NDP, we know what it was like,” Hochstein said. “There was, in essence, a strike on capital – people stopped investing in British Columbia.”

He said the latest polls showing the Conservatives are running third place in a tight three-way race do not concern him.

“The election will be won or lost on the economy and people will make the right decision.”

SFU political science instructor Cara Camcastle said the tactic of dredging up the NDP’s record in Victoria may prove less effective this time because federal NDP leader Tom Mulcair has promised balanced budgets and, unlike Dix, has carefully avoided taking a premature stand against proposed pipelines.

“The Conservatives are trying to put fear into those who are considering change,” she said. “But after 10 years in power, there will be some Conservative supporters who feel they’ve had their chance.”

Canadian Taxpayers Federation spokesman Jordan Bateman said he’s not surprised by the letter.

“In politics, you always go back to what’s worked,” Bateman said, but added the strategy is getting long in the tooth.

“The NDP did some outrageous things in the 90s. But I’m not sure how that’s a complete predictor of future behaviour. It’s almost 20 years ago now.”

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