Justice Minister Terry French announced Thursday morning he will retire from politics later this month to pursue a job in the private sector. 

In an interview with CBC's Radio Noon, French said he accepted the job with an unnamed employer after deciding that 12 years in public life was enough. 

'The last number of months, I have to say that I felt like I was on the defensive too much' - Terry French

"First and foremost, I do have another employment opportunity in the wind that I'm working on, and you certainly can't serve two masters when you're an elected official," French said. 

French said he also felt that his appetite for politics has diminished. 

“I've been around a while. I've had four elections that I've fought, which are significant. After a while, your skin [does] get thin again. The little complaints and the little things that people talk to you about  sometimes it bugs you," he said.

"And the last number of months, I have to say that I felt like I was on the defensive too much."

French, who has represented Conception Bay South in the House of Assembly since a 2002 byelection, announced his departure shortly before a cabinet meeting that will also be the final meeting for Finance Minister Charlene Johnson. 

Several portfolios during cabinet career

During a dozen years in provincial politics, French also served as the minister responsible for tourism, culture and recreation, as well as the environment and conservation portfolio.

French said it was "a true honour and a privilege to serve" his constituents.

French and Johnson are leaving just as Progressive Conservative delegates prepare to converge in St. John's to choose a leader on Sept. 13. The leader will take the party into the next election, expected in 2015. 

The changes also come on the heels of a new Corporate Research Associates poll that showed the Tories have been losing additional ground to the Liberals.

French succeeded his father, Bob French, in representing Conception Bay South. Bob French had been the MHA for the district from 1996 to his death in 2002.