David MacLeod former Liberal candidate in Central Nova

David MacLeod, who is a Canadian Forces veteran, was expected to run against Peter MacKay in the next federal election. (Liberal Party of Canada)

The federal Liberal Party candidate for Nova Scotia's Central Nova riding — currently represented by Conservative MP Peter MacKay — has withdrawn his candidacy.

David MacLeod, who is a Canadian Forces veteran, was expected to run against MacKay in the next federal election. MacKay is expected to announce today that he will not seek re-election, but he will stay on as justice minister and MP for Central Nova riding until October.

The Liberal Party of Canada said MacLeod told officials several days ago he didn't want to run.

"The Liberal Party of Canada confirms that David MacLeod advised the party of his withdrawal as the Liberal candidate for Central Nova on Wednesday," the party said in a statement released Friday.

"His resignation is for personal reasons and Mr. MacLeod is requesting privacy. We would like to thank him for his hard work on the campaign and wish him success in his future endeavours."

A senior Nova Scotia federal Liberal strategist told CBC News that upon learning MacKay intended to resign, the Liberal campaign team asked MacLeod if he would reconsider his decision to withdraw. He would not.

The strategist described the timing as "weird circumstances."

"With Peter McKay stepping down, we look forward to a vigorous open nomination to elect a new representative for the residents of Central Nova," the federal Liberal Party said in a statement.

"A new candidate for this riding will be selected through the open nomination process, the same process used in all ridings."

The Liberal website for Central Nova says MacLeod served in the military for 27 years.

"My friends have left in search of work, the economy has deteriorated, and crumbling infrastructure threatens our future. As a soldier I have defended Canada and her interests. Now I want to defend your interests," said a statement on his site.

"I am used to hard work and I will work tirelessly for our communities and the country I am proud to call my home."

MacKay has held the Central Nova riding since the constituency was re-established during the 2004 election.