Kevin Falcon's appointment of John Rustad as forests critic shows true B.C. Liberal priorities around the climate

Is it any wonder there's so much excitement over the climate-literate Anjali Appadurai's entry into the B.C. NDP leadership race?

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      Forgive me for my cynicism, but it's a bit rich to hear B.C. Liberal Leader Kevin Falcon's recent claim that his party is "strongly committed to substantive climate action".

      He made this comment over Twitter in response to yet another of B.C. Liberal MLA John Rustad's climate eruptions.

      Falcon maintained that Rustad "does not speak on behalf of caucus on this issue".

      It came after Rustad disseminated CO2 Coalition director Patrick Moore's attempt to delink carbon dioxide from rising global temperatures.

      Rustad, the B.C. Liberal forests critic and MLA for Nechako Lakes, has made no secret of his climate skepticism for years. In 2021, for instance, he refused to answer a reporter's question about whether he believes climate change is real and if it's caused by human beings.

      Also in 2021, Rustad claimed in the B.C. legislature that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant, according to an NDP news release. This again echoed the views of Moore, whose coalition has linked rising atmospheric CO2 to enhanced corn production.

      In 2019, Rustad slammed an NDP government requirement that all vehicles sold after 2040 would be zero-emission, according to a Tyee article. The writer, Paul Willcocks, noted that Rustad had earlier "shared an October article claiming the Earth was cooling, not warming", which came from a John Birch Society publication.

      This is who Falcon appointed as his forests critic.

      Let's not forget that Falcon also endorsed climate-change skeptic Max Bernier in 2017 when he was seeking the leadership of the federal Conservatives.

      In addition, Falcon was a key architect of the $3-billion Gateway Program road-building initiative during the B.C. Liberal government under Gordon Campbell. One of the projects, the South Fraser Perimeter Road, came under serious criticism for gobbling up 90 hectares of farmland and endangering Burns Bog.

      So Falcon needs to spare us the fine words about his deep concern for the climate. If he truly cared about the impact of rising greenhouse gases and the loss of climate stability, why would he appoint Rustad as forests critic?

      That's to say nothing of Falcon's decision to appoint Ellis Ross as the B.C. Liberal critic for energy and LNG. In 2019, Ross declared that the experts can't agree on the science of climate change. Three years later, Ross and Rustad were both retweeting a social media post complaining about the cost of fighting a climate catastrophe.

      “People in B.C. want us to be fighting climate change. Kevin Falcon won’t even fight it within his own caucus,” Environment and Climate Change Minister George Heyman said in an NDP news release at the time. “By letting his MLAs continue to undermine efforts to fight climate change, he’s showing he’s out of step with British Columbians.”

      The reality is that B.C. is especially vulnerable to the effects of a climate breakdown, which was on display in 2021 with monumental flooding and an especially deadly heat wave.

      We need B.C. Liberal MLAs in opposition who have a basic understanding of the carbon lag, the Clausius-Clapeyron relation, hydrologic stationarityHothouse Earth scenario, and Rossby waves so they can hold the NDP government to account on the biggest challenge facing British Columbia.

      Instead, we have a B.C. Liberal leader who appoints climate doofuses to key critic roles.

      Is it any wonder there's so much excitement about a truly literate climate activist, Anjali Appadurai, entering the B.C. NDP leadership race?

      Had Falcon done his homework, Rustad would have no say over his party's policies around forests. As Appadurai can tell the B.C. Liberal leader, these woodlands serve as critically important carbon sinks if we want to have any hope of staving off more climate disasters.

      But would he listen? The appointment of Rustad as forests critic should provide you with the answer.


      Less than a day after this column appeared, the B.C. Liberals ejected John Rustad from caucus.