A man who may very well be McLeod’s opponent in this year’s election campaign said MP Cathy McLeod’s work ethic cannot be questioned.
Terry Lake is former mayor of Kamloops and former B.C. Liberal health minister. He is now considering seeking the local federal Liberal nomination and, if he does secure it, he will work to defeat McLeod.
“I have always respected Cathy,” Lake said. “I worked really well with her as an MLA. We worked on numerous files together and I’ve always found her to be hard-working at the constituency level. She shows up, she talks to people, she helps people.”
Lake noted many people do not understand what it is that an MP or MLA does, that a large part of the job is working with individual constituents on securing a passport or helping with an immigration issue.
“On issues like that, that are federal issues, I think she was a very good constituency MP,” Lake said. “She always had time for people and good staff who worked through those issues.”
Having said that, Lake said if he does seek the Liberal nomination — and it is widely expected he will — he will be running to win.
“It will be a very respectful engagement because I have respect for her,” Lake said. “I just feel the party she is running for and is a part of is not the party that I think can do the most for our region and for Canada.”
Lake is confident the federal Liberals will be re-elected and said a government MP would be good for the riding.
“If I do make that decision, that will be my argument,” Lake said.
“It won’t be that Cathy is a bad person or that she’s done a bad job. It will really be about the vision for Canada and the difference between the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party of Canada.”
Bill Sundhu was the NDP candidate in the 2015 federal election, finishing second to McLeod, with a 3,000-vote margin separating the two.
Sundhu is now president of the NDP’s riding association and will not be a candidate in this year’s election.
But he still has a forceful opinion of McLeod as MP.
“She will be, by October, an 11-year incumbent. And I have always said I think Ms. McLeod is a nice person, but she has been an inconsequential member of Parliament,” Sundhu said.
“She has not really made her mark, she is not known nationally, she seems very weak on policy and really has not distinguished herself.
“Even in the Indigenous portfolio as a critic, she seems to lose out on the debates and looks like she’s not prepared and in over her head.”
Sundhu pointed to past Kamloops MPs who he said had national profiles — Dave Fulton, Len Marchand and Nelson Riis — arguing McLeod has been a weak MP in comparison.
“I’m not going to discount the fact that there’s lots of stuff that MPs do, that it’s just routine stuff, you know, passport applications, Canada Pension Plan applications, somebody needs a visa or whatever,” Sundhu said.
“And I’m sure she does that. Her staff probably works very hard, but that’s not the kind of stuff people speak to you about.”