For the first time in over a decade, the British Columbia legislature will sit a Conservative MLA.

On Thursday, Independent Nechako Lakes MLA John Rustad announced he was crossing the floor to the Conservative Party of British Columbia – almost six months after he was removed from the BC Liberal caucus by party leader Kevin Falcon before the party rebranded as BC United.

“As a British Columbian, I believe in what our province has to offer, but we are going to need to fight for it. I believe in a more self-sufficient BC, ripe with economic opportunity, compassion for those in need and a protection for our most personal freedoms. Only one party offers this vision – the Conservative Party of BC,” Rustad told True North. 

Rustad recently criticized the political scene in BC, saying there’s really not much diversity.

“I consider myself one of thousands of British Columbians who are fed up with the false choice between the BC NDP and the BC NDP-lite or so-called ‘BC United’,” he said.

Falcon removed Rustad from the Liberal caucus in August. He said Rustad’s pattern of dissident behaviour was not compatible with the party.

“While a diversity of perspectives are encouraged […] they cannot exist without that important foundation in place,” said Falcon.

Rustad had been criticizing aspects of the Liberal party’s stance on climate change. Liberal leader Falcon said that was at cross-purposes with the party.

Shortly before being ejected, Rustad shared a social media post which criticized the connection between CO2 emissions and climate change.

“I do not plan to stay silent on the many issues that are just wrong,” he later said. “I plan to be vocal about them.”

“It doesn’t serve the environment movement well, it doesn’t serve us as a province well.”

The last sitting Conservative MLA was John van Dongen who briefly represented the party in 2012.

The BC Conservative Party has undergone a rebranding and recently updated its platform. The party fielded candidates in recent provincial byelections, including in Falcon’s home riding, as well as in Surrey South where candidate Harman Bhangu received 12.7% of the vote. 

Rustad endorsed Bhangu’s candidacy only a week after he had been removed from the BC Liberals.

When asked what his priorities will be moving forward, Rustad told True North that healthcare reform and reinstating unvaccinated workers will be at the top of the list. 

“In my first few days, I intend to continue to advocate for healthcare reform including offering employment to the roughly 7000 healthcare workers who were fired or quit due to government mandates and disrespect,” said Rustad.