Conservative MP Rob Merrifield announced on Wednesday he is retiring from federal politics to work for Alberta Premier Jim Prentice as the province's representative to the U.S.
"Today, after 14 years of serving as the member of Parliament for Yellowhead, I am officially announcing my retirement from the House of Commons, effective immediately," Merrifield said in a written statement.
Merrifield said he will be moving to Washington, D.C., where he will work as Alberta’s senior representative to the U.S.
"I am excited for this new challenge and to continue to build upon the relationships and contacts that I have made working as a congressional liaison and the chair of the international trade committee," he said.
In a statement sent out Wednesday evening, Prime Minister Stephen Harper thanked Merrifield for his years of service, both as an MP and as an advocate for Alberta.
“Rob has made a significant contribution to his riding, his province and his country since his election to Parliament in 2000,” Harper said.
“He has not only earned my highest respect, but the respect of his Parliamentary colleagues as well. Rob’s expertise, insight and exemplary work ethic will certainly be missed as our Government continues to focus on our priorities of creating jobs and economic growth for Canadians.”
Merrifield, who is entitled to receive a pension after 14 years of service in the Commons, has chosen to donate the value of his pension payments to a charity of his choosing while he is paid to work for Alberta, an official in Merrifield's office confirmed to CBC News.
Appointment will improve Alberta's market access: Prentice
His appointment is one of three announcements Prentice made today in an effort to get Alberta's resources to key markets.
Prentice also announced that Ron Hoffman, a longtime diplomat, will represent the province's interest in the Asia-Pacific region while Jay Hill, another former Conservative caucus colleague, will liaise with Western Canada and the North.
Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith denounced today's announcement as "more of the same from a tired and out-of-touch PC government."
“Three days into the job, Mr. Prentice is already breaking key promises from his election campaign, awarding his closest friends and political insiders into high-level positions in the Alberta government without even opening a competitive application process," Smith said in a written statement.
Prentice said the trio have "considerable skills that will advance Alberta’s interests in terms of relationship-building, policy alignment and market development.
"Each will work in close contact with our government’s overall efforts to remove barriers and ensure that market access and global prices are achieved," he said in a statement.