British Columbia

Liberal Barry Penner quits as MLA

B.C. Liberal MLA Barry Penner has announced he'll end his political career in the new year to join a Vancouver law firm.
Penner says he wants to spend more time with wife Daris and daughter Fintry. (Barry Penner)

One of the most respected MLAs in the B.C. legislature is stepping down to practice law in Vancouver.

Former Liberal attorney general Barry Penner announced Thursday it would be his last day in the house.

"To everything there is a season and for me the season of serving in electoral office is drawing to a close," Penner said.

Penner stepped down as attorney general in August, saying he was not going to run in the next provincial election. At the time, election speculation was rife in Victoria as newly minted Premier Christy Clark was mulling an early call.

MLAs from both sides of the house stood in line to shake Penner’s hand after his announcement.

Two seats vacant

Penner is  leaving early in the new year to spend more time with his family  and to join the Vancouver law firm Davis LLP.

He was first elected in 1996, at the age of 29, and has also served as minister of the environment, minister of aboriginal relations.

Penner's resignation will create a second vacancy in the legislature after fellow Liberal Iain Black left earlier this fall.

As of Jan. 1, 2012, the legislature will have 47 Liberals, 34 New Democrats, two independents and the two vacancies.

Clark has six months to call a byelection for Penner’s Chilliwack seat.

The next general election is currently scheduled for May 2013.

With files from the CBC's Jeff Davies