Decorated Olympian Adam van Koeverden is looking to unseat the deputy leader of the federal Conservatives in the next federal election.
Van Koeverden, a 36-year-old kayaker and four-time Olympic medallist, announced Thursday that he is seeking the Liberal nomination in the Ontario riding of Milton for the 2019 election. The seat is currently held by Lisa Raitt, deputy to Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and a former senior cabinet minister.
Van Koeverden served as Canada's flag-bearer at the summer Olympic Games in both Athens and Beijing. He won gold in 2004, Canada's first in a canoe or kayak competition in 20 years. He also has two world championships under his belt.
Sitting down with CTV's "Your Morning" on Thursday, van Koeverden said the time feels right to give back in a new way, noting his advocacy work with charities and experiences growing up in community housing.
Though he still needs to win the right to take on Raitt next year, van Koeverden was asked about the prospects of going up against well-known and respected Conservative.
"I like a challenge. I relish a challenge. I take that from my years as an Olympian," he said. "I don't enter races that aren't winnable. I'm going to do this on hard work."
Watch the interview from CTV:
But he would not weigh in much on a squabble that erupted between Raitt and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in the House of Commons a day before.
During question period Wednesday, Trudeau called Tories "ambulance-chasing politicians" because of their steady, and often graphic questions about the transfer of child killer Terri-Lynne McClintic to an Indigenous healing lodge.
Raitt, who asked the question that spurred Trudeau's remark, is a lawyer by trade and took exception to the use of a term that refers to unethical members of that profession. The prime minister refused to apologize to her and later doubled-down on the criticism in front of reporters.
Watch the heated exchange:
Van Koeverden told CTV he didn't have any thoughts on the "quarrel," but will be a candidate who "reduces the amount of mudslinging."
Raitt took to Twitter to say Canadians should remember Trudeau's quip when a Liberal MP "or wanna be candidate"says they are above insults.
Raitt, who ran for the Tory leadership last year, was first elected in 2008. She served in cabinet under Stephen Harper as minister of natural resources, labour, and transport.
She was re-elected in 2015 by more than 2,400 votes at a time when several Tory cabinet ministers were shown the door by Liberal candidates.
Raitt said at the time that the "red wave" met a "blue wall" in her riding.
With a file from The Canadian Press