Health Minister and Kamloops-North Thompson MLA Terry Lake’s farewell speech in the B.C. Legislature on Thursday, March 16, 2017.
Hon. T. Lake: It’s a great privilege to rise in this House and give my remarks in a response to the Speech from the Throne, knowing that the Speaker will indulge me in perhaps straying from the Speech from the Throne a little bit as I express my gratitude to people and pass some comments on my eight years in this House.
Obviously, we need to recognize the people that have helped us through this journey. I know that my wife, Lisa, is sitting on the couch…. I just thought about my dog, Pal, next to her, which is why I got so emotional. I’m going to be in big trouble for that. Lisa and Pal are at home watching, and I hope they’ll forgive me for being a bit blubbery.
My three daughters, Shannon, Steph and Gemma, have grown up with their dad in public life. It’s not always easy, but they’ve been there to support me and wish me well, despite having to take the criticism, which someone else talked about earlier, when we’re in the news.
So many people to thank, and the list is long, so I hope people will forgive me. But I think it’s important that I recognize the people that have helped me in Kamloops in my constituency office.
My constituency assistant, Kirsty Morris, with whom I’ve worked for ten years — in the mayor’s office and now in the constituency office — is just one of the most amazing people I know. She has solved 95 percent of the problems that come through our door, helping really vulnerable people in Kamloops–North Thompson, particularly in North Kamloops.
Linda Friesen, Paula Cully, Gill Garon, Rob Sherf, Linda Mackenzie and Zach Millward have all played roles in my constituency office, and I’m deeply indebted to them for their help.
Ministry office. First of all, as a private member, the many assistant legislative assistants and legislative assistants that have been there for me. Then in the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Health. It’s a very long list.
My current team Health is an amazing team led by Kellie O’Brien, my chief of staff. Kellie has been named the staffer of the year on numerous occasions and led our team to have office of the year on other occasions as well. She’s one of the most capable, forceful and fun people I know and has become a dear friend. I want to thank her for all of her help and leadership on our team.
We also have Marissa Chan-Kent, Derek Robertson, Damon Dhanowa, Erika McCormick, Shaina Jukes and Deb Wade. Deb is the mom of our group, looking after everyone, making sure that everyone has chips and dip when she comes in on her three days a week and, more importantly, making sure my expenses get reimbursed in a timely way.
Over the years, I’ve had great people to work with: Sarah Blonde — she’ll kill me if I say “blond” — Kyle Giddons; Katy Merrifield; Taylor Brakes; Marty Lafrance; Nick Facey; Emile Scheffel; John Manning; Kyle Marsh; Mario Miniaci; Jen Wright; Jen Przada; Eric Wallace Dearing; Victoria Kline; Rhiannon Martin. My former chief of staff, Sabrina Loiacono, who just is an amazing person and now works in the civil service. She has been a great friend to me and great supporter, and I really thank her for that.
There is a rumour going around that these folks are all getting together to form a Terry Lake survivors club, which they probably should, because they know that this red hair comes with a bit of a temperament attached to it that they recognize as passion. Wanting to do a good job on behalf of your constituents means that you work hard, you expect a lot of yourself, and you expect a lot of others. They have all done that for me. I just so appreciate the relationship that we’ve had over the years and the ability to work with these great people.
Lots of people in the riding, but Kamloops–North Thompson is an amazing riding. Many of us, obviously, talk about our ridings, but Henry and Vickie Pejril have been great friends. Hoberly and Maureen Hove — other great friends and supporters who helped run my campaigns in 2009 and 2013. Again, it wasn’t just about doing something for political purposes. We’ve become extremely close friends. If you want to find Henry and I, 4 o’clock at the Red Collar on Fridays, that’s where we’ll be.
All my colleagues in the Legislature, on both sides of the House, we have enjoyed each other’s company. We’ve been competitive. We have fought for things that we believe in, but I think 99.9 percent of the time do so in the utmost respectful way. I know that people represent all of the parties in the House are genuinely concerned about their constituents. Despite the competitive nature and the somewhat theatrical nature of question period, I am really happy and proud that outside of that theatre, we can have very good discussions and build very positive relationships.
I want to thank every one of them, particularly the retiring members. I’ll single out the member for Surrey–Green Timbers, who I know has a very big heart and who cares deeply about vulnerable people. I wish her well in her retirement.
I also want to thank former MLA Kevin Krueger. He taught me how to heckle. I don’t have his deep voice, but I hope I have showed a bit of the same tenacity.
My current colleague from Kamloops–South Thompson, the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure, is someone who always literally has my back.
I appreciate his friendship and his true talents representing the people of Kamloops–South Thompson and the people of British Columbia.
So many other things I want to talk about, but I know time is short. I do want to thank all of the people that work in this building: the legislative staff, security, the Sergeant-at-Arms staff, the Clerks. It is a truly amazing experience to be in your midst and be part of your team. And a special shout-out to Christine in the dining room, who has put up with me and my antics for the last eight years.
Our friend Lynn Klein is in the audience, as often he is. Lynn is a former paramedic. One of the things I’m most proud of is being named British Columbia’s first Honorary Paramedic. I know we don’t use props, hon. Speaker, but I am an official honorary paramedic. I want to make sure I get to use that. It gives me special privileges, so I hope I can get away with that.
I want to say thank you to Lynn and all of the paramedics in British Columbia that are on the front lines of the current opioid epidemic that we are facing. They have saved countless lives. They work tirelessly every single day, and I know they are under a lot of strain. I hope that they see me as their advocate and champion and that we will continue to support them in the way we need to, to ensure that they are looked after and that they look after us.
I want to thank our Premier, who is, I think, a remarkable person. When I look at the list of people that have been such a big influence in my life, I realize that most of them are women — the strong, strong women that I have had the privilege to be among. Our Premier is one of those, someone that is, again, competitive and dynamic, allows great debate and allows me to voice my feelings and listen — and be convinced, at times — to my arguments. So I want to thank her for that.
Finally, I want to thank the members of the media. When I was a young 20-year-old, I worked in the media for a three-year period. I had a short time at the Legislature in Alberta, filling in for our Canadian Press correspondent there. It strikes me that in today’s world, we need an objective, well-supported media more than ever.
We see what is happening in other places, and it is a threat to democracy when we don’t have a vibrant, well-funded, well-researched, professional media. So despite the fact that they don’t always get it right when I speak to them, they are such an important part of democracy. I hope that our society will continue to support that balance, that rigour and that intelligence that the media provide for us as Canadians.
With that, I want to say that it has been a great eight years. I would not trade it for anything, and I’m looking forward to seeing my dog. [Applause.]
Source: B.C. Hansard