Peter MacKay, Canada’s Justice Minister, won’t seek re-election in October, marking another key loss for Prime Minister Stephen Harper ahead of the vote.
MacKay, who has been a member of Parliament since 1997, said Friday at a joint press conference with Harper in his home province Nova Scotia that he chose not to run again in order to spend more time with his family. MacKay, 49, said he will stay on as Justice Minister until the vote.
“After a great deal of reflection, and consultation with loved ones, today I’m announcing that I have come to the difficult decision that I will not be standing” as a candidate, MacKay said. “For entirely personal reasons, the time has come for me to step back from public life.”
MacKay’s departure means Harper, 56, heads into the next election having lost a number of his most important cabinet ministers over the past year, including former foreign affairs minister John Baird and the late finance minister Jim Flaherty.
Baird, who was assigned to handle some of the government’s most controversial files, resigned in February and has since taken on advisory positions at Barrick Gold Corp. and law firm Bennett Jones, while being elected to the board of Canadian Pacific Railway. Flaherty, Canada’s third-longest serving finance minister, resigned in March 2014 and passed away a month later.
Of all Harper’s key allies, MacKay was perhaps the most important in bringing the Prime Minister to power. The two men were the founding members of the Conservative Party, which was formed in 2003 in a merger between MacKay’s Progressive Conservative and Harper’s Canadian Alliance parties. The move ended divisions among conservative voters, helping Harper oust the Liberal Party and take office in 2006.
In his nine years in government, MacKay has also held the foreign-affairs and national-defense portfolios.