Premier Greg Selinger's NDP government will be short another familiar face heading into the 41st Manitoba election this spring.
Gord Mackintosh won't seek re-election on April 19, the justice minister's office confirmed Friday morning.
Mackintosh will finish his term representing the St. Johns constituency before ending a 23-year career at the Manitoba Legislature.
"I have been so inspired to work alongside so many strong constituents, in resident associations, citizen patrols, community and senior centres and with small business owners, who, with my colleagues at the [Manitoba] Legislature, have helped strengthen the North End and West Kildonan," Mackintosh said in a statement.
'A lot of good memories'
Mackintosh has been a senior cabinet minister since 1999, working at different times as conservation and family services minister.
On Friday, he told supporters while he "screwed up" every day, he also learned and ultimately, he is leaving with "a lot of good memories," particularly because of the constituents he served.
"I've always believed north Winnipeg is the heart and soul of this city," he said.
"The strong people, the smart people here that have come forward with ideas, that have worked together … There's not a fire in a house here where there isn't a fundraiser that follows."
Aside from those in his ward, Mackintosh said the reason that made him consider staying is the upcoming election, which he said will be "tough."
"I would relish that good fight," he said, adding he's going in a new direction. "I have come to the conclusion that it's time for a new life of service," he said.
Selinger's 'seat mate' for 10 years
Turning to face Selinger, Mackintosh said he will not forget all they shared as seat mates in both cabinet and the legislature for 10 years.
One of the greatest accomplishments the two reached as a team, Mackintosh said, was making sure the federal government invested in public housing in Manitoba.
"I've been so proud to work with him," Mackintosh said.
Selinger responded by listing a number of Mackintosh's contributions to the province.
"The family law bill, the domestic violence bill, these are things that make a life or death difference … You've served us extremely well," he said.
"I know you're going to continue to make a big difference in Manitoba."
Several other NDP MLAs not running
The announcement comes two days after Fort Rouge MLA and former finance minister Jennifer Howard said she won't seek re-election.
Best wishes to someone I consider a friend and mentor - @gordmackintosh as he leaves public life. True champion of rights and equality.— @howard_jennifer
In October, former NDP cabinet minister Theresa Oswald also announced she would not seek re-election. Then, in November, Radisson MLA Bidhu Jha said he, too, would bow out of the race in 2016.
- Jennifer Howard not seeking re-election, moving to Ottawa
- Former rebel NDP cabinet minister Theresa Oswald won't seek re-election in Manitoba
The NDP plummeted in opinion polls after raising the provincial sales tax in 2013. The following year, five senior cabinet ministers openly challenged Selinger's leadership. Only one of those cabinet ministers — Andrew Swan, MLA for Minto — will run for re-election, with Oswald, Howard and Stan Struthers deciding not to run and Erin Selby having resigned in September to run unsuccessfully for Parliament.
Selinger barely eked out a win over Oswald in the ensuing leadership vote. Mackintosh took no side in the leadership crisis.
Manitoba Liberal Leader Rana Bokhari said Mackintosh and Howard are stepping aside ahead of the election because they have "read the writing on the wall." After both already won the party's nominations in their respective ridings, the decision to pull away now seems strange, she added.
"Eighty days out of an election, once you are nominated and then you choose not to be nominated this close to an election is really questionable," she said.
Winnipeg political analyst Christopher Adams said losing Mackintosh is a blow to Selinger's bid for re-election, but it's something the NDP can rebound from before Manitobans head to the polls.
"Some people might think that these are people abandoning ship before the ship sinks, so there is that concern," Adams said. "But there's still a lot of time before the election comes up."
Mackintosh said he reached his decision on his own, regardless of what was happening within the NDP.
Calling it "developing thinking," he said the decision started as an idea years ago and in this instance, the time felt right.
"Life is short," he said.
"We have to, every once in a while, step back and say, 'Are there other opportunities that should be pursued?'"
On Friday, Mackintosh said a number of times that he will continue to serve the public, but he did not specify how he will do that.
The PC's Myrna Driedger, MLA for Charleswood, tweeted to wish both Howard and Mackintosh well on Friday.
Nine NDP MLAs have said they won't be running for re-election. Thus far, the following candidates have been nominated:
Updated list of nominated NDP candidates:
- Assiniboia: Joseph McKellep (currently held by NDP Jim Rondeau)
- Brandon West: Linda Ross
- Burrows: Melanie Wight (incumbent)
- Concordia: Matt Wiebe (incumbent)
- Dauphin: Darcy Scheller (currently held by NDP Stan Struthers)
- Dawson Trail: Ron Lemieux (incumbent)
- Elmwood: Jim Maloway (incumbent)
- Fort Garry Riverview: James Allum (incumbent)
- Fort Richmond: Kerri Irvin-Ross (incumbent)
- Fort Rouge: Jennifer Howard (dropped out)
- Flin Flon: Tom Lindsey (held by NDP's Clarence Pettersen - lost own nomination)
- Gimli: Armand Belanger (held by NDP's Peter Bjornson - resigned health issues)
- Interlake: Tom Nevakshonoff (incumbent)
- Kildonan: Dave Chomiak (incumbent)
- Kirkfield Park: Sharon Blady (incumbent)
- Logan: Flor Marcelino (incumbent)
- Minto: Andrew Swan (incumbent)
- Point Douglas: Kevin Chief (incumbent)
- Radisson: Preetinder Singh (held by Bidhu Jha)
- Riel: Christine Melnick (incumbent)
- River East: Jody Gillis
- Rossmere: Erna Braun (incumbent)
- Seine River: Lise Pinkos (held by Theresa Oswald)
- Selkirk: Greg Dewar (incumbent)
- St. James: Deanne Crothers (incumbent)
- St. Johns: Gord Mackintosh (dropped out)
- St. Norbert: Dave Gaudreau (incumbent)
- St. Vital: Jamie Moses (held by Nancy Allan)
- Swan River: Ron Kostyshyn (incumbent)
- The Maples: Mohinder Saran (incumbent)
- The Pas: Amanda Lathlin (incumbent)
- Tyndall Park: Ted Marcelino (incumbent)
- Wolseley: Rob Altemeyer