British Columbia

Oppal running for Liberals

B.C.'s best known activist judge Wally Oppal has made it official. He has ended weeks of speculation, saying he will run for the B.C. Liberals in the upcoming provincial election.

B.C.'s best known activist judge Wally Oppal has made it official. He has ended weeks of speculation, saying he will run for the B.C. Liberals in the upcoming provincial election.

Oppal made the announcement on Friday morning alongside Premier Gordon Campbell in the riding of Vancouver-Fraserview riding – where he will replace incumbent Ken Johnston as the Liberal candidate.

"I've been asked a lot in the last few weeks as to why I would leave the sanctity and the solemnity of the bench, the judging business, to get into what's been called the bloodletting political business," he said.

I'd like to say that I hope it's not bloodletting, and that I hope that we can maybe raise politics and public life to a higher level that it doesn't become that."

The 63-year-old Oppal, who has been on the bench for 23 years, is seen by many as an obvious candidate to be Attorney General. But he told CBC on Thursday that Campbell has made no promises.

"We've talked about where my interests are, and what my areas of expertise are, and that's really as far as we've gone because he can't promise anything in advance."

Oppal's agenda includes victims' rights and multicultural access issues, and he hopes he can make some changes in Victoria.

Oppal has been high profile for years, viewed as open and approachable – which got him in trouble only once. In 1992, he took heat after a report that he had made off-colour comments during a speech at a police dinner.

Two years later, he was back in the news with his report on policing in British Columbia.

He is not long-time Liberal. As of Thursday morning, he had not yet bought a membership in the B.C. Liberal Party.

The NDP candidate in Vancouver-Fraserview says he welcomes taking on the former judge.

Ravinder Gill says he has lots of support in the riding. And he says Oppal hasn't been involved in the community.

Oppal is the third high-profile candidate recruited by Premier Campbell. Last month, former CBC chair Carole Taylor announced she is running for the party in the riding of Vancouver-Langara.

And in February, Olympic gold medallist Daniel Igali announced he was in the running for the Liberals in Surrey-Newton.

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