Regardless of tomorrow’s vote, the leader of the B.C. Conservatives said his party has accomplished a lot by raising its profile, increasing membership and building for the next election.

The last MLA to represent the Conservative Party — then known as the B.C. Progressive Conservative Party — was Prince Rupert MLA Graham Lea in 1986.

“We’re hoping we accomplish more by electing some MLAs,” said leader Wilf Hanni, 61, in a phone interview from Cranbrook yesterday.

“If we could get enough elected to get official party status and hopefully enough to hold the balance of power in a minority government, that would be considered a major success.”

Hanni said the Conservatives (the oldest party in B.C.) are “in the race” in a number of ridings, including his own, East Kootenay, where he is running against incumbent Liberal cabinet minister Bill Bennett.

At the least, Hanni could draw centre-right votes from Bennett, resulting in a win for New Democrat Troy Sebastian.

The defining issue for the Conservatives is their opposition to the Liberals’ Recognition and Reconciliation Act to recognize Aboriginal title across the province.

“Win or lose in this election, we’ll be continuing the fight against the Recognition and Reconciliation Act with a petition drive to force the government to hold a referendum on it,” Hanni said.

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