MLA Rustad pledges ‘pro-freedom’ platform in B.C. Conservative leadership bid

In a statement, MLA John Rustad says he is running for Conservative leader because the NDP government isn't listening to voters, and 'the so-called official opposition refuses to oppose.'

MLA Rustad pledges ‘pro-freedom’ platform in B.C. Conservative leadership bid
John Rustad/Facebook
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Conservative Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad confirmed Thursday he would seek the leadership of the B.C. Conservative Party.

Rustad, a former B.C. Liberal who has been an MLA since 2005, joined the provincial Conservatives last month, becoming the party's only member in the legislature.

The B.C. Liberals kicked Rustad out of their caucus last summer after he shared an online post disputing that climate change is caused by carbon dioxide with the hashtag "celebrate CO2."

They also tried to summarily block his private member's motion (Motion 22) to debate the "unethical" electric vehicle subsidies, adding the province should not use taxpayer dues to "financially reward companies that cannot trace their supply chains to safeguard against child labour."

"For whatever reason…the [B.C. Liberals] decided to [be petty] — the same tactic they used against the NDP when they denied them official party status," said Rustad.

In a statement, Rustad said he was running for Conservative leader because the B.C. NDP government isn't listening to voters, and "the so-called official opposition refuses to oppose."

The lone Conservative MLA petitioned thousands of B.C. residents against the controversial Bill 36, the Health Professions and Occupations Act, which allows the NDP government to appoint health college boards wholly and intrude in the ability of healthcare providers to provide patient care.

"What I'm hearing from doctors and nurses, in particular, is that they aren't comfortable losing the ability to govern their professions. Amongst other changes, Bill 36 removes independent, elected positions and shifts oversight of health professions to government appointees," said Rustad.

He called out the province for drafting Bill 36 behind closed doors and with little consultation from healthcare workers. 

"Healthcare workers were kept out of the loop, and B.C.'s healthcare profession colleges [the current governing bodies] were asked to sign NDAs."

"Our province needs a new option with genuine, principled leadership," claimed Rustad, adding he refuses to play political games because B.C. residents "deserve a political party that is honest, open, and behaves with integrity."

"The time for wishy-washy, weak leadership is over."

The statement lauds Rustad as the only B.C. MLA to publicly support "freedom," adding he is "proudly pro-freedom and pro-trucker" and "fighting to end mandates and hire back our healthcare heroes."

In January, a group of 37 rural mayors formed the B.C. Rural Health Care Alliance, vying to solve healthcare shortages in their communities. 

Merritt Mayor Michael Goetz said the province terminated 2,496 employees "due to non-compliance with the provincial health officer's Hospital and Community COVID-19 Vaccination Status Information and Preventive Measures order."

Approximately half of those workers fired for not getting the COVID jab worked in the Interior and Northern Health regions, where emergency room closures and shortages made headlines last year.

Health Minister Adrian Dix denied the vaccine mandates caused the shortages, adding that people are not coming to work when sick.

Earlier this month, party leader Trevor Bolin announced his intent to step down and spend more time with family but would serve as interim leader until a new leader is chosen.

Nominations for the leadership race are open until March 29, with a vote slated for May 28.

If Rustad wins, his high profile could split the vote with the B.C. Liberals, who have relied on a coalition of federal Conservative and federal Liberal voters for support.

Last provincial election, the B.C. NDP captured four formerly "safe" B.C. Liberal ridings after the B.C. Conservatives gained noticeable support, including 16.5% in Chilliwack and 12.4% in Vernon-Monashee.

An additional four ridings where the B.C. Liberal candidates beat their NDP competitors by fewer than 1,000 votes could also be susceptible to splitting the vote.

The next provincial election is scheduled for the following October 19.

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  • By Rebel News

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