Lake moves into BC Liberal cabinet

It’s a changing of the guard for politics in Kamloops.

After four years and five ministries, Kamloops-South Thompson MLA Kevin Krueger is out of the B.C. Liberal cabinet, while across the river, rookie Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Terry Lake gets a raise and a promotion to minister of environment and deputy government house leader.

It’s all part of Premier Christy Clark’s new-look cabinet that has shrunk to 18 from 23.

Lake told KTW one of the reasons he wanted to run for the B.C. Liberals was because of its stand on the environment. He said he has always enjoyed researching and looking at issues from a scientific perspective and said his ministry will make decisions based on “good information.

“It’s a daunting challenge in front of me, but I’m excited about the opportunity,” he said following the appointment on Monday, March 14.

Though Lake, who has been battling a recall campaign for five weeks, still needs to be briefed on specific matters within the ministry, he said everything from mining development to air quality are all significant issues for B.C. residents.

Lake is considered a rising star in the party in less than two years on the job.

He was chairman of the committee that decided to send the harmonized sales tax to a referendum.

He is also now chairman of a task force looking into the cull of 100 sled dogs in Whistler.

With Lake getting the cabinet post and the premier signaling a smaller government, it seemed unlikely Kamloops would get two ministers.

Krueger said he was prepared to go to the backbench and was the first to congratulate his colleague on the promotion.

“My heart was prepared for this,” he said, adding Lake brings a “lot of stuff” to the cabinet table.

Krueger said he intends to remain very involved and run again in the next provincial election.

The longtime MLA who held five cabinet posts — the last being the ministry of social development — wasn’t completely left out as he was appointed to the cabinet committee on open government and engagement.

Both politicians appear to be lining up behind their new leader, suggesting the party is united and energized following the cabinet choices.

“I don’t see how anyone could possibly be offended by the choices she [Clark] made,” Krueger said.

Meanwhile, opposition parties are quick to dismiss the new cabinet. A statement from the Kamloops-North Thompson NDP constituency called Lake’s appointment over Krueger “new paint on an old truck,” while local B.C. Conservatives argued there was no major change to the key caucus members that stood with former premier Gordon Campbell.

Kamloops-North Thompson recall campaign organizer Chad Moats noted an increase in the amount of calls from people interested in signing the recall petition following Lake’s appointment as environment minster.

PAY RAISE

Terry Lake’s promotion to cabinet brings with it a hefty salary increase. As an MLA, Lakeis paid $101,859. As a cabinet minister, he will be paid an additional $50,930.

By Jeremy Deutsch

Kamloops This Week