Conservative MP Kellie Leitch won't run in 2019
Leitch came 6th in leadership race that included pitch for immigrant values screening
Conservative MP Kellie Leitch will not seek re-election in 2019.
"My time in politics has been a genuine privilege, and I will always be thankful to the constituents of Simcoe-Grey for their tremendous support," Leitch said in a statement late Tuesday. "I have concluded, however, that the time has come for me to serve in other ways, including as a surgeon and volunteer."
She gave no specific reason for her departure beyond saying is it time "to return to the public service that is the core of my being."
She said she will serve out the rest of her term, but then "I'm looking forward to getting kids back on the playground to play."
"She has been a valued member of the caucus for a long period of time," said Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer.
Leitch, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon, was first elected in her Ontario riding in 2011 and made a failed bid for the party's leadership last year.
- Kellie Leitch first off in lengthy race for Conservative leadership
- Leitch wants immigrants to be asked: 'Are men and women equal?'
She was the first official candidate in the race, but her bid sparked controversy after she proposed a questionnaire that would screen potential immigrants for Canadian values. She finished sixth.
Scheer won the leadership race and subsequently left Leitch out of his shadow cabinet.
"Our leadership race had, at the end of the day, 13 individuals who were all putting forward different versions of what they believe the Conservative Party should be about, the presentation that it should focus on and the issues that we should be presenting to Canadians. At the end of the day, members had their say and I can tell you, our entire caucus is united," he told CBC News Tuesday in Victoria, where Conservatives are holding a winter caucus retreat.
"We are the party of ideas. We are the party of having these types of debates."
Leitch was also one of two MPs to front a 2015 Conservative campaign promise to establish a tip line for reporting "barbaric cultural practices" to the RCMP.
She later apologized for her role in the announcement.
"We weren't talking about race, we were talking about kids … but that message was completely overtaken and I regret that, and I regret that it occurred, and it shouldn't have been done," she said.
Asked Wednesday if the end to her political career was a repudiation of her Canadian values test, Leitch told reporters "not at all" and insisted she would not have conducted herself any differently.
"No. Not for myself. For myself, I think we live in a great open democracy, one [where] we should be able to share ideas. I shared some ideas and individuals had their say and I think that's great," she said.
With files from The Canadian Press