Veteran Manitoba cabinet minister Ron Lemieux is the latest veteran New Democrat MLA to pull out of the 2016 election, despite previously committing to the race, saying he needs to put his health first.
"It's a very difficult day but it's a day that I'm pleased to announce that I will not be seeking re-election in Dawson Trail, but I will be doing everything I can to support the new NDP colleague that will be running in Dawson Trail," Lemieux told reporters on Tuesday, with Premier and NDP Leader Greg Selinger by his side.
"While I've made the decision not to seek re-election, I want to reiterate my support for the New Democratic Party and our leader and our premier. And I'll continue to do everything possible that I can do to support the re-election of Premier Selinger and my colleagues to the legislature."
Lemieux was nominated on Dec. 13, 2014, to represent the NDP in Dawson Trail for the April 19 election.
On Monday, Sellinger laid the ground work for Lemieux's departure from politics when he announced Lemieux had to seek urgent medical attention for an infection that had to be drained while vacationing in the United States.
Selinger said Lemieux was fine and his condition was not considered life-threatening, but he had not decided his future in politics.
On Tuesday, Lemieux said he is turning 66 years old this summer and despite his love of politics, he feels it's time to make way for someone else to represent the constituents of Dawson Trail.
"Often in the jobs we have it's a tough grind … and you don't often have time to think about where you want to go in your future or what you want to do," he said.
"And you often don't put your health and other things first, so that's the decision I've made … as difficult as it is."
Lemieux had made no mention of any health conditions when he told reporters on Feb. 4 that he was second-guessing his decision to seek re-election.
Lemieux is currently the province's minister of tourism, culture, heritage, sport and consumer protection. He is also the minister responsible for the Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Corporation Act.
He has been an MLA since 1999, after winning the rural riding of La Verendrye. His defeat of the Progressive Conservative candidate marked the first time the NDP — or any of its party predecessors — had taken that riding.
The NDP has already taken several recent blows with longtime and big name cabinet ministers deciding against another election run, including Jennifer Howard, Theresa Oswald and Justice Minister Gord Mackintosh.
- Justice Minister pulls out of election
- Jennifer Howard, former rebel MLA, quits politics and decides to move to Ottawa
Lemieux previously acknowledged their departures from politics have influenced how he is thinking about his future.