The British Columbia Conservative Party has named MLA John Rustad party leader seven months after he was ejected from the province’s main opposition party, the BC Liberals.

Rustad was acclaimed to the party’s top post Friday within a month of the party announcing a leadership race. Rustad replaced interim leader Trevor Bolin who led the BC Conservatives since 2019.

“I want to thank the thousands of members of the Conservative Party of British Columbia. I appreciate the trust you’re putting in my leadership, and I promise you this — no one will outwork me,” said Rustad.

Rustad is the only MLA sitting in the BC Legislature for the BC Conservatives, representing the riding of Nechako-Lakes. 

In February, he first renounced his status as an independent, joining the Conservatives and becoming the party’s first sitting MLA in over a decade. Prior to his switch, he had served as the Minister of Aboriginal Relations under former premier Christy Clark.

“I believe in a more self-sufficient BC,” he told True North at the time, “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’s announcement that he’d join the Conservatives came six months after being ousted from the BC Liberals.

BC Liberal leader Kevin Falcon in August removed Rustad, saying a recent string of the MLA’s behaviour was not compatible with the Liberal party’s views.

At the time, Rustad was criticizing the link between CO2 emissions and climate change. 

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

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

Rustad hopes that the BC Conservatives can provide a fresh direction for the province’s political system as a “genuine grassroots movement.”

“The Conservative Party is going to bring people together in every single region of British Columbia, and we are going to continue to build a genuine grassroots movement for positive change. Every single British Columbian voter will have the opportunity to tick a box that says ‘Conservative’ when they cast their vote in the next election,” said Rustad.