Beyond the Headlines

"I'll miss it"

Posted: May 31, 2012 11:00 AM ET Last Updated: May 31, 2012 11:00 AM ET

Bill Estabrooks loves his job.

You could hear it in his halting voice - see it in his tear-filled eyes.
 
Estabrooks spoke with reporters at Government House, moments after watching Maurice Smith take the oath of office to replace him as Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal; the first step in Estabrook's decision to leave public office.
 
Estabrooks, who was first elected in 1998, isn't stepping down because he's lost interest in the job, or needs a change. In fact, his passion for politics is as strong as ever. He's leaving solely because his body has betrayed him.
 
In September, 2010 Estabrooks revealed he is suffering from Parkinson's disease. At the time he insisted on keeping his seat at the cabinet table, but in recent weeks Estabrooks had to admit to himself, and then to his boss, that the job was taking too big a toll on his health.
 
"Parkinson's is grinding away at me," says Estabrooks. "Over the past year it's been tough some days. I have a different sort of pace some days, it's a pace thing, especially when the house is in session."
 
Estabrooks told Premier Darrell Dexter of his decision last March at a caucus retreat in New Glasgow.
 
"I told him this is how I would like to see it unfold and he agreed with me in terms that as long as I could stick through as a cabinet minister until this budget had been passed."
 
Estabrooks says he will stay on as MLA for Timberlea-Prospect until the next election, expected sometime next year. But that will be the end of his political career. He will not run for re-election.
 
"I have 500 clean, polished election signs in my basement and if my health was ready I would go again in a minute, but I just can't go."
 
Moments later he added, "it's tough you know - I'll miss it."
 
There was a long pause. His eyes filled with tears. The scrum was over.

There was nothing more to say.
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About the Author

Brian DuBreuil is a veteran journalist with CBC News. He has won two Gemini awards for his work, and neither involved dancing or singing on a reality show.

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