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'Not going to happen': John Rustad says he won't quit as BC Conservatives leader

Conservative Party of BC Leader John Rustad has said plans to “kick out our grassroots” to create a unified right-wing party are “not going to happen.”

In a passionate defence of his insurgent party – which has surprised many by topping some recent polls – Rustad said he “tried to come to the table months ago” to discuss a potential deal with BC United.

He claimed the answer he received was: “F**k off.”

“When I joined the Conservative Party of BC, we were the last place party — now we’re first place in many polls and we’re competing for government,” he wrote in a post on X.

He added: “We built this party with hard work piece by piece — now, people want to jump into the driver's seat and kick out our grassroots.

“Not going to happen.

“I’ve promised thousands of British Columbians and our thousands of grassroots members — who took the initiative to sign themselves up — to lead this party through the next election. I intend to keep my word.”

It comes after BC United Leader Kevin Falcon, who kicked Rustad out of the party in 2022 because of a dispute over climate change, said he was open to working with the BC Conservatives.

He told NowMedia on Wednesday that, while he won’t discuss the matter publicly, he has been seeking “common ground” with Rustad’s party.

British Columbians, he said, "don't want the NDP in government one day longer than absolutely necessary."

But he also mentioned his concerns about the BC Conservatives’ “candidate quality.”

In a separate interview with NowMedia, BC United shadow minister Renee Merrifield likened the BC Conservatives to the Wizard of Oz, explaining: “I kind of feel like at one point the curtain is going to get pulled, and all of a sudden it's going to be like, Oh, that's the wizard? That's what we're saying yes to?”

She also called into question the party’s work ethic, saying that she could “probably count on one hand how many times I’ve had a BC Conservative actually get up and speak to a bill.”

Rustad, in his post, said he “never expected to be a politician” or the leader of a party, but now that he’s become both of things he won’t “just give up and walk away.”

“The truth is, I’m not who Downtown Victoria and Vancouver consultants want to be Premier,” he wrote. “I’m not a wealthy lawyer or a hotshot urban mayor. I’m a small business guy from the North — and I have the chainsaw scars to prove it.”

That “hotshot urban mayor” remark appears to be a reference to Brad West, who leads Port Coquitlam.

He has been touted as a potential leader of a merged BC Conservatives-BC United party.

Rustad added later in his post: “I hope Brad West decides to join our team — we’ve had months of discussion and we kept the riding open for him.

“He told us he wants to beat the NDP, and that he wants the top job down the road — I hope he’s willing to earn it.”

But West, in a post of his own, appeared to dismiss the speculation about his political ambitions.

“I appreciate the interest in my future, but my plan is to be the best Dad I can be to my two sons, the best husband I can be to my wife & the best Mayor I can be to the people of Port Coquitlam,” he wrote.

"If that ever changes, you’ll hear from me!”

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