MacDougall: An MP’s plot to open our ears, one happy hour at a time

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It makes for a great chat, even after a long week filled with nothing other than Zoom. Where else do you get the chance to speak to a current MP, journalist, olympian, small-business owner, and the heads of major charity all at one time? The odd celebrity has even been known to make an appearance. And they’re not just for the “élites”; the calls typically feature one of Lake’s constituents (although sometimes the constituents themselves are well-known, as is the case with former CFL great Adarius Bowman), alongside one or more of Lake’s (or his colleagues’) staffers.

“We do try to ensure we have some diversity, in terms of life experience and political views,” Lake offers. “This creates opportunities for everyone to shift, or add to, their perspective, which is so important for personal and collective growth.”

The first rule of Lake’s Zoom club is you can talk about Zoom club, but you can’t harm anyone using any info or insights gleaned from it. These guardrails help keep the discussion flowing among any ideological opposites, no small feat when so many now refuse to engage with those holding different opinions. In the few Zoom Happy Hours I’ve done we’ve broached hot-button issues like gun control, religion, and politics without anybody short-circuiting their screens.

Lake clearly enjoys connecting people he thinks would benefit from an introduction. There are even rumours of future professional collaborations coming out of the calls. He’s an adept host, always keeping the conversation flowing. “I enjoy the moments when someone feels comfortable to open up and share something personal,” he explains. “I enjoy watching the expressions on the faces of others as these stories are told. I enjoy the ease with which people communicate when they feel safe, even with people they just met.”