NDP MP Denise Savoie cites health in resigning Commons seat

New Democrat MP Denise Savoie said Thursday she is quitting after being warned by her doctor that she should lead a more balanced lifestyle.

Victoria, B.C. MP was Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons

New Democrat Denise Savoie announced Thursday that she's giving up her seat in the House of Commons in order to live a healthier lifestyle.

Denise Savoie was re-elected for the third time in 2011. The NDP MP announced her resignation in her Victoria, B.C. riding Thursday, citing personal reasons. (2011 election handout)

The 68-year-old MP made the announcement alongside NDP Leader Tom Mulcair in her Victoria, B.C. riding. Her resignation will take effect August 31.

"After 6 years in the House of Commons and nearly 13 years as an elected official, I have decided to return to private life," Savoie said in a written statement. "My doctor gave me a health warning this spring and recommended that I adopt a more balanced lifestyle, without the travel and physical demands of the job of an MP from Western Canada.  I am therefore resigning as the Member of Parliament for Victoria."

The MP was first elected in 2006 and before federal politics she served on Victoria's city council. She was re-elected in 2011 with just over 50 per cent of the popular vote.

Vacant seats in the House of Commons

  • Calgary Centre: Conservative MP Lee Richardson resigned May 30.
  • Durham: Conservative MP Bev Oda resigned July 31.
  • Victoria: NDP MP Denise Savoie will resign August 31.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has six months to call a byelection from the time the Chief Electoral Officer receives the official notice of vacancy.

"Denise Savoie leaves a tremendous legacy to the House of Commons and to the New Democratic Party of Canada," Mulcair said. "Denise is a leader in our caucus with her passionate commitment to sustainability and protecting our environment and her focus on cross-party cooperation on issues of common concern.  She will be missed by all of her colleagues regardless of political affiliation."

Savoie, who is bilingual, served as the Deputy Speaker in the House of Commons. She ran against current House Speaker Andrew Scheer in the June 2011 Speaker election, placing second on the sixth and final ballot.

"I enjoyed working with Denise very much," Scheer said in a statement Thursday. "She always displayed a genuine passion for both public policy and the instiution of Parliament. As Deputy Speaker, she was particularly committed to encouraging an exchange of ideas marked by courtesy and mutual respect. I wish her all the very best in her retirement and lots of happiness with her family."

Savoie was also thanked and lauded by the NDP's Victoria riding association.

"In a time of cynicism and negativity about electoral politics, Denise demonstrated time and again that a local MP can make a difference in people's lives," said Erik Kaye, president of Victoria's NDP executive. He said the group would meet in early September to choose a candidate for the byelection that will eventually be held to replace Savoie.

She will be eligible for a parliamentary pension as a result of her six years of service in the House of Commons.