After 18 years as Sudbury's MPP, Rick Bartolucci has announced he will retire from politics at the end of his term.
"I met with Premier designate Wynne last week to inform her of our family decision not to run in the next provincial election," he said Thursday.
Bartolucci also said he has withdrawn his name for a possible cabinet position and will no longer be the Minister of Northern Development and Mines as of Monday, when Ontario's incoming premier, Kathleen Wynne, will announce her new cabinet.
However Bartolucci will stay on as Sudbury's MPP until an election is called.
His announcement comes on the heels of Finance Minister Dwight Duncan’s notice he will be leave office on Feb. 14. Duncan made it clear during the Liberal leadership campaign that he intended to step down soon — saying he didn't want to stay in cabinet because premier-designate Kathleen Wynne needs a new team to lead the government.
‘Say that again?’
Bartolucci made his announcement to a packed audience at one of his favourite venues — the Caruso Club in Sudbury. The invitation-only event was open to his family, friends and the media — but not, apparently, to fellow MPPs.
Nickel Belt NDP MPP France Gelinas was turned away at the door.
"That was a shock to me. When the minister does an announcement, an MPP is always allowed to listen in. I was told I was not allowed to go in," she said.
"It was like, ‘Say that again?’ Here’s a minister making an announcement and I’m a member of the provincial legislature … I’m allowed in. They became quite aggressive in telling me that I was not welcome, that I was not allowed in."
Gelinas said she "didn’t want to push it." So she backed off.
"But it’s disappointing to see this. This is the kind of political behavior that turns people off. There was no reason for this … I was going to listen in, I didn’t have to eat or anything … I just wanted to listen in and wish him well."
Gelinas said it was disappointing to "see this partisan decision."
Fellow MPPs extend good wishes
Nipissing Conservative MPP Vic Fedeli didn’t attend the announcement, but formally sent his congratulations to "Minister Bartolucci on his retirement from cabinet."
"I look forward to meeting with the new Minister of Northern Development and Mines at the earliest opportunity to discuss the future of Ontario Northland and other issues vital to Nipissing and northern Ontario," he stated in a press release.
Gelinas said if she had been given the opportunity to extend her thoughts to the retiring minister, she said she would have had this to say:
"Thank you for all the years," she said. "Thank you to his family for sharing him. Thank you for toughing it out. It’s not easy."
She conceded that the decision was one she had "sort of seen coming."
"His wife was not travelling with him to Toronto anymore … she was vocal in saying she wanted him to stay home," Gelinas said.
"Representing Sudbury means that you’re not at home from Monday to Thursday ... it’s hard on his family."