A year after being elected with a huge margin of victory, Prince Albert's Conservative MP Brian Fitzpatrick has handed in his retirement notice.

Fitzpatrick, one of 12 Saskatchewan Tories elected in January 2006, said Monday he won't run in the next federal election, whenever that turns out to be.

The 61-year-old lawyer, who is in his third term, said he wants to give his party time to find a fresh candidate.

Fitzpatrick said the move is not related to controversy over a much publicized letter he sent to Prime Minister Stephen Harper last summer.

In that letter, which was leaked to the media, Saskatchewan Conservatives reminded Harper about thefederal Conservativecampaign promise to remove non-renewable resource revenues from the federal-provincial equalization formula.

That move, and another change to the equalization program promised by the Conservatives, would be worth an extra $800 million to Saskatchewan government coffers, according to Premier Lorne Calvert.

The July 25 Fitzpatrick letter said the Saskatchewan Conservative caucus had been talking about equalization and predicted "no end of political difficulty" in the next election if the government doesn't live up to its commitments.

However, on Monday, Fitzpatrick brushed off any suggestion that equalization and his retirement are linked.

"The best ally that there exists outside of Saskatchewan on this particular issue is the Prime Minister of Canada," he said.

Feels 'tug' to leave politics

Fitzpatrick said simply that the "tug" he feels to leave politics got stronger after the opposition Liberals chose a feisty new leader of their own.

The equalization letter wasn't the first time Fitzpatrick has stirred up controversy.

In the November 2000 election, he came under criticism after joking at a forum on aboriginal issues about being "scalped".

Fitzpatrick was also in the news in 2001 when he called on then-Canadian Alliance leader Stockwell Day to resign.

Nothing he said seemed to affect his popularity at the ballot box, however. Last year, Fitzpatrick received 17,271 votes— almost 10,000 more than his nearest competitor, NDP candidate Valerie Mushinski.