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Former BC Liberal John Rustad turned Independent now seeks Conservative leadership

BC MLA for Nechako Lakes John Rustad speaks to reporters in Victoria, B.C. on Feb. 16, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dirk Meissner BC MLA for Nechako Lakes John Rustad speaks to reporters in Victoria, B.C. on Feb. 16, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dirk Meissner
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A former BC Liberal cabinet minister turfed from the party caucus last year for his climate change views says he's running for the leadership of the Conservative Party of British Columbia.

John Rustad, who has been sitting as an Independent in B.C.'s legislature, says he wants to build a grassroots coalition of supporters under the Conservative banner to offer an alternative to the current New Democrat government and Opposition Liberals.

A Conservative leadership vote is set for May 28, with former leader Trevor Bolin serving as interim leader until the vote.

Liberal Leader Kevin Falcon said he dumped Rustad from the party caucus last August for his public statements and social media posts suggesting climate change is not caused by carbon dioxide emissions.

Rustad, who says he's pro-freedom, pro-trucker and is fighting to end vaccine mandates, says he expects the Conservatives under his leadership to challenge the NDP and Liberals.

The Vanderhoof-Nechako Lakes MLA, who once held the forests and Indigenous relations cabinet posts in former Liberal governments, announced last month he was joining the B.C. Conservatives, who received less than two per cent of votes in the 2020 provincial election.

"I really don't think of this being more political from a perspective of being left-wing politics or right-wing politics, I really think it's a party that needs to be more about right and wrong," Rustad said in an interview.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 24, 2023.

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