John Rustad has joined the Conservative Party of B.C. to become the only party representative in the provincial legislature and he wasted no time making that known in Question Period Thursday afternoon in Victoria.
Rustad asked if the NDP government plans to follow the lead of all other provinces hire back the 2,600 B.C. health care workers he said were fired because vaccine mandates and their refusal to get COVID vaccinations.
“The government, of course, refused, but that’s something I could not have fought for as a B.C. Liberal,” said Rustad.
“The lack of health care workers is critical across my riding and across the North. I look at my communities, places like Houston, Burns Lake, Fraser Lake and Fort St. James and Vanderhoof, one doctor makes a huge differences services provided and a nurse or two makes a huge difference in whether emergency rooms are open or not across my riding.”
The Nechako Lakes MLA has been sitting as an Independent since August, when Liberal leader Kevin Falcon booted him out of the party for Rustad’s controversial views on climate change against the accepted science that it’s being caused by carbon dioxide emissions.
Rustad said he needs the backing of political structure to bring forward provincial issues but said he can’t truly represent his constituents as member of either the Liberals or NDP, which demand that he tow the party line.
“They like to operate in the shadows and keep information from people so they can put spin on how they present information and the worst part is they silence MLAs, except to have them parrot what their party position is,” said Rustad.
“We need people to be able to stand up and be strong representatives for their riding to be able to fight for the riding and those values I found in the Conservative Party of B.C.”
Rustad’s move to the Conservatives leaves them one elected representative short of gaining official party status. Party leader Trevor Bolin, a Fort St. John city counselor, does not have a seat in the legislature. Rustad says he’s not focused on that and is instead trying to build membership within the party.
“I suspect there will be some in my riding that won’t be happy about me doing this and, unfortunately, my riding has quite a history of becoming independent or moving over to other parties,” he said. “I always thought I brought stability to this riding. I actually don’t look at it from the perspective of me leaving the party. I actually think the party left me.”
The 59-year-old Rustad, a five-term MLA first elected in 2005, worked for 20 years in the forest industry before he became a provincial politician. As part of the Liberal government he served as Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation and was B.C’s Minster of Forestry, Lands and Natural Resource Operations.
Rustad was the opposition’s forestry critic at the time of Falcon’s decision and he continues to be critical about the government’s climate change policies and how environmental policies and carbon taxes are hurting British Columbians by driving up the cost of fuel and making food less affordable.
“Recent polls say that 67 per cent of people in Canada think Canada is broken, but Canada is the best place in the world and we have unbelievable geography and resources and so much potential, but the challenge is it’s hopelessly managed at all levels,” said Rustad.
“Former premier John Horgan said last spring with the carbon tax, ‘It’s just a penny per litre,’ but the reality is it’s taken $2.5 billion last year out of people’s pockets and that is huge, and over the next eight or 10 years it’s going to triple and be up to $8 billion by the end of this decade. It’s insane what that will do to the quality of life in this province.”