Kevin Falcon’s nomination of John Rustad as forest critic shows BC’s true liberal priorities around climate

Forgive my cynicism, but it’s a little rich to hear BC Liberal Leader Kevin Falcon’s recent claim that his party is “strongly committed to substantive climate action”.

He made this comment via Twitter in response to yet another of BC Liberal MLA John Rustad’s climate outbursts.

Falcon claimed that Rustad “is not speaking on behalf of the caucus on this matter”.

It came after Rustad spread CO2 coalition director Patrick Moore’s attempt to decouple carbon dioxide from rising global temperatures.

Rustad, the BC Liberal forest critic and MLA for Nechako Lakes, has been making no secret of his climate skepticism for years. For example, in 2021 he declined to answer a reporter’s question whether he believes climate change is real and whether it is caused by humans.

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

In 2019, Rustad rejected a demand from the NDP government that all vehicles sold after 2040, according to a Tyee article. The writer, Paul Willcocks, noted that Rustad had previously shared “an October article claiming the Earth was cooling, not warming,” which came from a John Birch Society publication.

This is who has appointed Falcon as his forest critic.

Let’s not forget that in 2017 Falcon also backed climate skeptic Max Bernier as he sought the leadership of the federal conservatives.

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

Falcon must therefore spare us the fine words about his deep concern for the climate. If he really cared about the impact of rising greenhouse gases and the loss of climate stability, why would he appoint Rustad as a forest critic?

That doesn’t say anything about Falcon’s decision to name Ellis Ross as BC’s liberal critic for energy and LNG. In 2019, Ross stated that the experts can’t agree on the science of climate change. Two years later, Ross and Rustad both retweeted a post on social media complaining about the cost of fighting a climate catastrophe.

“People in BC want us to fight against climate change. Kevin Falcon will not even fight it within his own caucus,” Environment and Climate Change Secretary George Heyman said in an NDP press release at the time. “By letting his MLAs undermine efforts to fight climate change, he is showing that he is out of step with British Colombians.”

The reality is that BC is particularly vulnerable to the effects of a climate disturbance, which featured monumental flooding and a particularly deadly heat wave in 2021.

We need BC Liberal MLAs in the opposition who have a basic understanding of the carbon lag, the Clausius-Clapeyron relationship, hydrologic stationarity, the Hothouse Earth scenario, and Rossby waves so they can hold the NDP government accountable for the biggest challenge facing British Columbia.

Instead, we have a liberal BC leader who names climate doofuses as major critics.

Is it any wonder there is so much excitement about a truly literate climate activist, Anjali Appadurai, taking part in the BC NDP leadership race?

If Falcon had done his homework, Rustad would have no say in his party’s policy on forests. As Appadurai can tell the leader of the BC Liberal, these forests serve as all-important carbon sinks if we are to have any hope of averting more climate catastrophes.

But would he listen? Rustad’s appointment as forest critic should give you the answer.

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