OTTAWA – Bob Rae, former interim Liberal leader and one-time NDP premier of Ontario, is resigning as an MP, winding up a political career that stretched over 35 years and two parties.
Rae began in politics as a New Democrat and later shifted to the federal Liberals, even seeking the party leadership at one point.
He was first elected to the Commons in a 1978 byelection, but moved to Ontario provincial politics four years later, when he became provincial NDP leader.
He was premier from 1990-95 during troubled economic times and left a controversial legacy.
In 2006, having joined the Liberals, he unsuccessfully sought the party leadership, but won a seat in the Commons in 2008.
He became the party’s interim leader after Michael Ignatieff lost his seat in the 2011 election.
RELATED: Read Aaron Wherry’s interview with Rae from November 2011.
Some months ago I agreed to work with the Matawa Tribal Council in northern Ontario as their negotiator in dealings with the government of Ontario.
The Ring of Fire mining development will have a huge impact on the communities in the area and well beyond. How positive that impact could be has yet to be determined, and will depend on the outcome of the discussions that are now underway, and will only intensify in the time ahead.
It has become clear to me that the full scope of the negotiator’s job is no longer compatible with my also serving as a member of Parliament. And so I face a choice.
I have decided to return to my profession as a lawyer and mediator, to continue working for the Matawa Tribal Council, and to step down as the Member of Parliament for Toronto Centre.
This has been a difficult personal decision. I was first elected to Parliament in 1978, and was deeply honoured to have had the chance to serve again these past five years, as well as to lead the Liberal Party at a time of change and renewal. I have made wonderful friendships, and am so proud of the renewal and rebuilding that has been accomplished over the last few years. I’m leaving the party in confidence that the party is in good shape.
I am especially happy that as interim leader I was able to champion aboriginal issues, and share the importance of mental health with my colleagues. I also particularly enjoyed having the confidence of Stephane Dion, Michael Ignatieff and Justin Trudeau as foreign affairs spokesman for the Liberal Party. I shall miss this work very much.
I want to thank my constituents in Toronto Centre, my colleagues and friends in the Liberal Party and all parties in Parliament, my leader, Justin Trudeau, and the people of Canada for giving me the chance to serve. It has been an honour and a pleasure.
Helping to improve the life of First Nations people has been a longstanding commitment of mine, and this opportunity to serve is one I felt I could not decline.
I have told Mr. Trudeau and my colleagues that I shall continue to work for the Liberal Party, and I look forward to remaining engaged in Canadian public life.