BC Conservative tables motion to oppose EV subsidies

BC Conservative MLA John Rustad hoped to table his private member's motion to debate EV subsidies when his former party, the BC Liberals, summarily blocked it from the debate.

BC Conservative tables motion to oppose EV subsidies
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The BC Conservatives tabled a motion last week to end electric vehicle (EV) subsidies, citing the slave labour mines that the cobalt for their batteries comes from. This caused quite a commotion at the province's legislature.

Newly minted BC Conservative John Rustad hoped to table his private member's motion to debate EV subsidies when his former party, the BC Liberals summarily blocked it from the debate.

Rustad's motion — Motion 22 — called on the government "to end the policy of subsidizing electric vehicles, electric bikes and the practice of providing privilege to electric vehicle owners to utilize high occupancy vehicle lanes."

The Nechako Lakes MLA called such subsidies "unethical."

In a surprising turn of events, the NDP government permitted Rustad's motion for debate ahead of four BC Liberal motions.

"I was trying to move a motion forward this morning in the legislature, and the BC Liberals blocked it," said Rustad in a video posted to Twitter.

"For whatever reason, for their petty politics, they decided to do the same tactic they used against the NDP when they denied them official party status."

He then pivoted to debate Motion 22.

"There are thousands of children in the Democratic Republic of Congo [DRC] who are working like slaves, digging with their bare hands to mine cobalt being used in our electric vehicles," said Rustad. 

"As of 2022, no clean cobalt supply chain from the Congo exists. All cobalt sourced from the DRC is tainted by various abuse, including slavery, child labour, forced labour, debt bondage, human trafficking, hazardous and toxic working conditions, pathetic wages, injury and death, and incalculable environmental harm."

He added the province should not use taxpayer dues to "financially reward companies that cannot trace their supply chains to safeguard against child labour."

Congo mines three-quarters of the world's cobalt, with almost all of it going to China, where 80% of its cobalt goes for refining. China then produces 75% of the world's lithium batteries.

"For now, I won't raise the issue of lithium extraction and the environmental damage that it causes. I also won't explore the plight of the Uyghurs in China," continued Rustad. "But suffice it to say that turning a blind eye to these issues by using these products only means we quietly support them."

"It's not right that we should try to improve our environment by destroying [the Congo]," said the lone Conservative MLA. "We should stand for principles in BC."

"For the foreseeable future, there will be no avoiding cobalt from the Congo, which means there will be no avoiding the devastation that cobalt mining causes the people and environment."

"It is time this legislature faces our world's realities and ends the subsidies," concluded Rustad. 

"Doesn't a child's life in the Congo matter? Blood batteries are not the answer to our climate issues. Let's do the right thing and end our publicly funded support for these atrocities."

In August 2022, BC Liberal leader Kevin Falcon ousted Rustad after a series of controversial tweets denying the influence of carbon dioxide on climate change. 

"Let me be clear: Climate change is one of the critical threats facing our future. The BC Liberals are strongly committed to substantive climate action & restoring BC's place as a world leader in climate policy," said Falcon at the time. 

He claimed Rustad did not speak on behalf of the caucus on this issue.

"Following a pattern of behaviour that was not supportive of our caucus team and the principles of mutual respect and trust, I have removed MLA John Rustad from the BC Liberal Caucus effective immediately."

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  • By Alexandra Lavoie

PETITION: No Green Reset

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