Now that Terry Lake has confirmed he is considering seeking the local federal Liberal nomination in the Oct. 21 election, interest in the upcoming campaign has amped up.
The last election, in October 2015, was among the most exciting in recent memory, with incumbent Conservative MP Cathy McLeod emerging victorious via a 3,000-vote victory over New Democrat Bill Sundhu and Liberal Steve Powrie.
Powrie’s 21,215 votes were the most ever received by a Liberal candidate in the riding.
McLeod’s victory, with 35 per cent of the vote, was the tightest in her three election triumphs. In 2011, McLeod was re-elected with 52 per cent of the vote. In 2008, she won with 46 per cent of the vote.
Interestingly, the 2015 election in Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo surely saw some voters cast ballots strategically, with a portion of votes handed to Sundhu and Powrie coming from the ABC (anybody but Conservative) contingent among the electorate.
Had a good number of those voters properly read the tea leaves, Kamloops could today have a government MP.
The strength of the campaigns of Sundhu and Powrie led to a split that led to McLeod’s victory, which continues a streak of Conservative/Alliance triumphs that began in 2000 when Betty Hinton halted Nelson Riis’s 20-year NDP MP reign.
With the federal NDP today a political mess, it may well be a two-party race in the riding, with McLeod battling the Liberal candidate (be it Lake or someone else).
Then again, nine months is an eternity in politics, so strategic voting may again be employed.
What is notable is that, had Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s biggest campaign promise in the 2015 campaign been honoured, strategic voting would no longer be an issue. Rather than some voters casting ballots in an effort to prevent an outcome, they could vote for candidates they support, knowing the popular vote percentages would mirror the percentage of seats in Ottawa.
Alas, the sunny ways of electoral reform, which Trudeau promised in exchange for votes, turned cloudy soon after his Liberals formed a majority government.
Here is what voters read when they logged onto the Liberal Party of Canada website during the 2015 election campaign:
“We are committed to ensuring that 2015 will be the last federal election conducted under the first-past-the-post voting system.
“We will convene an all-party Parliamentary committee to review a wide variety of reforms, such as ranked ballots, proportional representation, mandatory voting and online voting. This committee will deliver its recommendations to Parliament. Within 18 months of forming government, we will introduce legislation to enact electoral reform.”
Trudeau repeated that mantra until October 2016, when he told Le Devoir in Quebec that electoral reform is no longer needed because people liked the Liberals better than they did the Conservatives under Stephen Harper.
“Under Mr. Harper, there were so many people unhappy with the government and its approach that they were saying, ‘We need electoral reform in order to no longer have a government we don’t like,’” Trudeau said. “However, under the current system, they now have a government they are more satisfied with. And the motivation to want to change the electoral system is less compelling.”
Yes, he said that with a straight face.
In any event, if Lake does carry the Liberal flag in this year’s federal election campaign, he will have come full circle, politically.
In the 2004 federal election, before he became mayor or MLA, Lake served as campaign manager for Liberal candidate John O’Fee, who is today a Kamloops-Thompson school trustee.
O’Fee finished second that year to Conservative Hinton.
Fun fact from that election? An Independent candidate named Arjun Singh finished fifth in the five-person race, garnering 480 votes (0.86 per cent of the vote) and spending a mere $289.