A BC Conservative motion to end subsidies for electric vehicles due to the use of the slave labour involved in acquiring the cobalt necessary to produce their batteries caused a stir in the province’s legislature on Monday. 

BC Conservative MLA John Rustad was set to introduce a private member’s motion for debate on the issue but it was summarily blocked by his former party, the BC Liberals. 

Rustad’s motion 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, who announced his membership in the BC Conservative Party in February, has called such subsidies unethical.

“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. We should not be using BC taxpayers’ money to financially reward companies that cannot trace their supply chains to safeguard against child labour,” said Rustad. 

After discovering that the NDP government had allowed Rustad’s motion to be debated first, ahead of four motions by the BC Liberals, his former party refused to give the motion assent. 

“I was trying to move a motion forward this morning in the legislature and the BC Liberals blocked it. For whatever reason, for their petty politics, they decided to do the same sort of tactic they used against the NDP when they denied them official party status,” said Rustad in a video posted to his social media. 

“We should stand for principles in BC. It’s not right that we should be trying to improve our environment by destroying (the Congo).”

In Aug. 2022, Rustad was ousted by BC Liberal leader Kevin Falcon after a series of controversial tweets denying the influence of CO2 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. John Rustad does not speak on behalf of caucus on this issue,” Falcon said at the time. 

“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.”