British Columbia

Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett won't run in next provincial election

Bill Bennett, the minister responsible for energy and mines, as well as the core review of government services, is announcing his retirement from politics.

'Kootenay Bill' announces retirement from politics

Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett has announced his retirement from politics, saying he won't run in the next election. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

One of the longest-serving and high-profile members of Premier Christy Clark's cabinet has announced he won't run in the next provincial election.

Bill Bennett, 66, said it's time to move onto other things and wants to spend more time with his wife, Beth, as well as his two sons and granddaughter.

"It's not the only reason I've decided not to run, but it's the most important decision to me," he said.

"I've had a lot of fun with it, and I've had times when it wasn't fun ... It hasn't always been fun for my wife and two sons."

He made the announcement Tuesday night in Cranbrook, as Premier Clark and the Liberal cabinet looked on.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark gives Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett a hug after he announced his retirement from politics on Tuesday night in Cranbrook. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

"I'm going to miss the hell out of this job. I love it, but we need renewal," he said. 

Clark followed Bennett at the podium and commended him for his support and years of service. 

"He has worked with the heart of a lion for this community," Clark said. "Even if you don't agree with Bill, you always know he's telling you what he really thinks."

B.C. Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett (second from left) says his time in politics wasn't always fun for his family. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

Bennett was first elected in 2001 in the 'red tide' that swept Gordon Campbell and the B.C. Liberals to power.

His 15 years in politics has had its ups and downs. Bennett was fired twice from cabinet by Campbell and once from the B.C. Liberal party itself.

But he outlasted Campbell and was instrumental in forcing the former premier out of office following the disastrous attempt to implement the HST.

Bennett briefly sat as an independent before being invited into Christy Clark's cabinet as both minister of Energy and Mines and the minister responsible for the core review of government services.

Bennett has overseen the restructuring of BC Hydro rates, controversial changes to the Agricultural Land Reserve and was minister of Energy and Mines during the Mount Polley tailings pond disaster and the commencement of the Site-C dam project.

He won the East Kootenay riding in four successive elections.

"Even if you don't agree with Bill, you always know he's telling you what he really thinks," said Premier Christy Clark following Bill Bennett's announcement that he's leaving politics. (Rafferty Baker/CBC)

With files from Rafferty Baker and Maryse Zeidler