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B.C.’s health minister says he won’t seek re-election in May 2017


September 6, 2016
By The Canadian Press
B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake

KAMLOOPS, B.C. – Health Minister Terry Lake says he won’t be running in British Columbia’s next election after a second term in politics.

The member of the legislature for the Kamloops-North Thompson riding said the decision wasn’t easy.

“I think this will be a good change for my family, it will be a good change for me,” he said Thursday. “And I know leaving now, when we have such a strong team, is better than leaving at any other time.”

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Lake was appointed health minister in June 2013 after serving as environment minister for two years.

As health minister, he has been an advocate for evidence-based opioid-addiction treatment options tailored to individuals’ needs. In April, he joined the provincial health officer in declaring a public health emergency after a near-record number of overdose deaths in B.C., many involving the powerful painkiller fentanyl.

Last month, he said various federal agencies would join forces to deal with other public health crises, and the same needs to happen for the opioid issue.

“If this were SARS or Ebola, Health Canada and border security and immigration would all be focused on this as a health issue that is essentially like a pandemic,” he said at the time.

The veterinarian and former mayor of Kamloops has been on leave since 2009 from Thompson Rivers University, where he teaches animal health.

Kamloops Mayor Peter Milobar said Lake has been an excellent representative for the community and he’s surprised by his decision to leave politics.

Milobar said he will be mulling over whether to run provincially now that there’s a spot on next May’s election ballot, though he still has a lot of projects he’d like to continue working on as mayor.

“I’ll have to take a bit of time and reflect on that and I think, as fairness to the community, it’s something I need to come to a decision on in quick order.”

Premier Christy Clark described Lake as an invaluable member of her team.

“He brings a laser focus to public service and an unparalleled work ethic,” she said in a statement. “He always finds time to help his colleagues in caucus as an adviser and trusted sounding board.”

Lake said his highlights as a provincial politician included leading a task force after the controversial destruction of 56 sled dogs by an adventure-tourism operator in Whistler following the 2010 Olympics.

His work led to legislative changes requiring sled-dog companies to have their animals inspected annually if they want to operate on Crown land in British Columbia.

Lake, who is married and has three daughters, declined to say what he will do after leaving politics. (The Canadian Press, CHNL)