Terry Lake officially named the federal Liberal candidate for Kamloops

Terry Lake's acclamation as the nominee for the Liberal Party of Canada in the upcoming federal election was a raucous event Tuesday night (May 21).

The former mayor of Kamloops, MLA and provincial cabinet minister had more than a couple of special guests for the event at the Coast Hotel in Aberdeen, none more notable than Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who introduced Lake to the crowd.

Lake, in his speech to the audience, keyed in on a few issues as the reason he's rejoining politics after stepping down a few years ago.

"If anyone knows the impacts of climate change, it's people right here in Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo," Lake said. "It's like a war zone here, prime minister, in the summer. People leave so they can breathe clean air. People worry, they suffer physically, they suffer mentally."

While Lake pointed to climate change as the primary reason for his candidacy, he also pointed to the opioid crisis as an important issue to tackle.

"The overdose crisis is the worst public health situation we've seen in over 100 years in this country," he told the crowd.

Lake spent time as both the health and environment minister while in provincial politics.

Speaking to media after the public event, Lake elaborated on his reasons for stepping back into the spotlight.

"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 said. "The thing that concerns me most of the possibility of an Andrew Scheer government is the complete abdication of responsibilities, such as action on climate change and helping Canadians deal with the opioid epidemic."

The Liberal Party of Canada hasn't held the Kamloops riding since Len Marchand was an MP and cabinet minister with Pierre Trudeau 40 years ago (incumbent Conservative MP Cathy McLeod has held the seat since 2008). When asked about running for a seat that's not seen a Liberal for decades, Lake wasn't concerned.

While Lake focused on the issues close to him, Trudeau's speech looked at the last few years. He touted some of his government's accomplishments, including getting children out of poverty and the fact the country is at the lowest unemployment rate in decades. He also touched on climate change as an issue that'll affect the 2019 election.

The event attracted some 300 supporters, many carrying signs with the slogan "Team Terry."

Cathy McNeely has been a Lake supporter for years, having worked with him while he was in provincial politics.

"I worked on his campaign when he was on the provincial scene," she told KamloopsMatters. "I knew, from working with him, he was a very capable individual."

A pair of high school students, Thaelo Proctor and Gurneet Singh, came to see Trudeau and get a more in-person idea of who the politicians representing them are.

"I was just interested in the Liberal government, just in learning about politics in general," Proctor said. "It was an awesome opportunity to learn."

The federal election is Oct. 21.

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