Broadbent to quit politics to care for ailing wife

Former federal NDP leader Ed Broadbent says he won't run in next election. Broadbent represents Ottawa Centre.

Ed Broadbent, the former NDP leader who returned to politics as a member of Parliament last year, says he won't run in the next federal election because of his wife's ailing condition.

"Lucille has an intensified health problem and she spends most of every day in pain," said the 69-year-old MP for Ottawa Centre at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

"The major decisions made in one's life are made quickly. I realized, one day, where my obligations were."

Broadbent, whose voice cracked when he spoke about his wife, said he made the decision 10 days ago and refused to detail his wife's illness.

NDP Leader Jack Layton coaxed Broadbent back into the federal arena last year. He defeated Liberal Richard Mahoney, tagged as a possible cabinet contender under Prime Minister Paul Martin.

Broadbent praised Layton for negotiating "some terrific deals for Canadians," such as more money for education and affordable housing. He predicted there would be more NDP members in the House the next time around.

The veteran politician also referred to the "personally acrimonious" nature of question period, saying that the House of Commons had become "dysfunctional."

He also said during the news conference he would be available to Layton for consultation on issues such as electoral reform and ethics.

Broadbent first became an MP in 1968, representing the federal Ontario riding of Oshawa. He then sat as leader of the New Democrats from 1975 to 1989. During that time, he led the party to its best electoral showing – 43 seats in the 1988 election.

When he left federal politics in 1990, Broadbent became the first president of the International Centre for Human Rights and Democratic Development in Montreal.

Broadbent returned to university life in 1996 as a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford University. That was followed by a visiting fellowship at the Arthur Kroeger College of Public Affairs at Carleton University in Ottawa and a visiting professorship at McGill University in Montreal. He is currently a fellow at the School of Policy Studies, Queen's University.

Broadbent was named a Companion of the Order of Canada in 2002.