John Martin, the B.C. Conservative candidate in April's Chilliwack-Hope by-election, announced Friday he will join the B.C. Liberals and will seek the nomination in the Chilliwack riding for the provincial election in May.
A self-described "former rival" and "fierce critic" of the Liberals, Martin sat between retiring who I am Chilliwack MLA John Les and the last Liberal by-election candidate, Laurie Throness, at a press conference Friday morning to declare his defection.
"I'm excited and thrilled to be joining [B.C. Premier] Christy Clark and the B.C. Liberal Party, and it's not after the election of another disastrous NDP government but this is to prevent one from happening," Martin said. "Simply put, I believe there is more that unites us than divides us."
Les and Throness welcomed Martin to the party and posed for photographs as he held up his new B.C. Liberal membership card.
"I salute your decision today to join the B.C. Liberal Party and work with us collectively to ensure that we keep a free enterprise coalition government in the province of British Columbia," Les said.
Martin said he had not told B.C. Conservative Party leader John Cummins about the defection in advance, adding, "They know now."
Martin joins a party that he said in December 2011 was "self-destructing" and "absolutely don't deserve a fourth term to be re-elected."
As a Conservative member, the University of the Fraser Valley criminology professor and former Abbotsford-Mission Times columnist frequently compared the current B.C. Liberal government's policies to those of the NDP .
"Both the Liberals and NDP support policies that make life for ordinary British Columbians more expensive," Martin said in January. "Policies such as the carbon tax, increased ICBC premiums, higher MSP rates and increased BC Hydro bills."
Martin came to Friday's press conference prepared to respond to his former statements coming back at him.
"I have concerns and there are policies that I don't like, and I think I can do a lot more toward addressing those and maybe even change some of those things from inside, rather than outside with a third-place party," he said.
"We all know what I said in the by-election. I can't change who I am. I don't want to change who I am. I'm not changing any of my beliefs; however, I have revisited my views on which option people like me, small conservatives, what option do they have.
"It has become abundantly clear they have one option and one option only, and that is the B.C. Liberals."
In March, Martin said he was "thrilled" that Abbotsford South MLA John van Dongen defected from the B.C. Liberals to the B.C. Conservatives.
When asked Friday if he was now thrilled to join the Liberals, he said he was "ecstatic."
Martin, who is a barbecue enthusiast and competition pit master, even joked about the issue of his former remarks coming back at him.
"If there is anyone who can make eating crow taste good, it's me," he said.