Terry Lake says climate change is indeed a ballot box issue, which is a primary reason he has decided to jump back into politics by securing the Liberal nomination in this year’s federal election.
Lake cited climate change, the ongoing opioid overdose crisis and the economy as issues that drew him to joining Team Trudeau, as the many red, white and black signs proclaimed amid the crowd of about 300 supporters who filled a room at the Coast Kamloops Hotel and Conference Centre on Tuesday night.
Joining Lake at what resembled a pep rally was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, making his second visit to Kamloops this year, his first being a January stop for a fundraising luncheon and town hall meeting.
Trudeau arrived at the Coast after stopping for a visit at Kamloops City Hall.
With Lake next to him and with a large media contingent recording the upbeat scene, Trudeau cited various accomplishments of his government’s near four years in power and lauded Lake as a candidate.
“For all the cynicism and challenges in politics we see these days, it takes good people to keep stepping up … you know Terry, we know Terry. He’s an incredibly strong worker, a strong voice for the community. He’s been a minister of health, a minister of environment, but he has always been an extraordinarily strong voice for Kamloops-Thompson River-Cariboo.”
While Steve Powrie garnered the most votes ever by a local Liberal candidate in 2015 (21,215), NDP candidate Bill Sundhu did even better, with 21,466 votes, splitting the left of centre vote and allowing Conservative MP Cathy McLeod to win re-election with 24,595 votes.
But Lake sees a difference brewing in the Oct. 21 election, which will be held exactly five months from Lake’s nomination meeting.
“I think it’s just the natural progression that we see, the changes that are happening in our community of Kamloops, but also in communities around Kamloops,” Lake said.
“It’s a different world today and people are worried about the things that the Liberal party stand for.”
He cited action on climate change while developing the economy and taking families out of poverty through the child benefit.
“We’ve got the lowest unemployment rate in 40 years, since the last Liberal MP represented this riding,” Lake said, referring to Len Marchand.
Lake was asked about the Liberal/NDP vote split in 2015 and what he would tell NDP supporters this year.
“We live in a democracy and I think people should always vote what their passion is and what their belief system is,” he said.
“But I think it’s going to come down, honestly, to a stark choice between the Conservatives and the Liberal Party of Canada. And there could not be more of a contrast in that choice.”
He cited the fact the Conservatives do not have a plan to address climate change and claimed the Conservatives believe “government shouldn’t have anything to do with social programs” to allow middle-class families to get ahead.
“There’s criticism that’s been levelled at this government because governing is hard … In a world where we’ve got so many changes, so much populism and right-wing rhetoric that’s flying around the entire world, I think Canada needs to be a safe harbour for progressive, forward-looking policies.”
He referenced Ontario Premier Doug Ford and cuts to health care in Ontario and said an Andrew Scheer-led government concerns him.
“What concerns me most about the possibility of an Andrew Scheer government is the complete abdication of responsibility for taking action on climate change, for helping Canadians deal with an overdose epidemic that is still claiming about six or seven lives every day across this country,” Lake said.
“And somehow they think that it’s just a matter of personal responsibility. They don’t understand the challenge that people face."
On the SNC Lavalin controversy, Lake said he has examined the issue closely and is convinced there was no wrongdoing.
“People were trying to do the very best to preserve jobs, to make sure all avenues were explored before decisions were made, and there was a difference of opinion,” he said. “You know, I’ve had differences of opinion with my former leaders. We deal with those behind doors and then we come out as a team for the betterment of our constituents.”
Lake said he wants to take his experience as B.C.’s environment and health minister and use that in Ottawa on those issues.
To the point of Liberals not winning recent byelections, Lake said: “Well, it’s rare that government MPs win byelections, it’s rare in provincial politics for governments to win byelections."
In the crowd
At least two Kamloops councillors were among the 300 or so people at the nomination meeting: Dieter Dudy and Mike O'Reilly.
About that day job
Lake said he will take a leave of absence in the fall from his job as vice-president of corporate social responsibility at Hexo, a Quebec-based cannabis producer.
Behind the scenes
Henry Pejril is Lake’s campaign manager, while Mike Henry is campaign chair.
People’s Party percolating?
Maxine Bernier, leader of the fledgling People’s Party of Canada, will be in Kamloops this Thursday as it is expected he will help reveal candidates for his party in the Thompson-Okanagan region.
The Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo riding association will meet this Sunday at 7 p.m. at St. Andrews on the Square, downtown at Seymour Street and Second Avenue, to nominate its candidate. At last word, the only person to file nomination papers before the May 10 deadline was 100 Mile House resident Gina Myhill-Jones.
Waiting for the rest
Incumbent Conservative MP Cathy McLeod was acclaimed as her party’s candidate last year and is awaiting other parties to confirm their candidates.