The Okanagan Coquihalla will elect a new member of Parliament in the next federal election (whenever that is).
After close to 25 years in politics, including over a decade representing the riding, Stockwell Day announced Saturday that he will not be seeking re-election.
The 60-year-old Conservative MP and cabinet minister said he and his wife Valorie came to the decision after “prayerful consideration,” before going on to thank his family, friends, colleagues, supporters and constituents.
“Along with memories which I will forever cherish, I will also forever carry a debt of unrepayable gratitude to so many people,” said Day. “To my wife, who more than any person on earth is responsible for each and every success I have been allowed to experience. Her unlimited inner strength, unfailing love and untold reserves of grace have seen us through the most incredible challenges and the most wonderful breakthroughs.”
Day entered politics as a Progressive Conservative MLA for Red Deer North in Alberta in 1986. Day entered the province’s cabinet four years later under former premier Ralph Klein holding a number of positions including treasurer, instituting a flat tax.
In 2000, Day beat out Reform Party founder Preston Manning to lead the newly formed Canadian Alliance Party. Day won Okanagan Coquihalla seat shortly after in a by-election — arriving to his first news conference on a Jet Ski — before going on to win the seat in four consecutive federal elections garnering a politically impressive overall average of about 54.38 per cent of votes cast.
In 2002, Day was replaced by Stephen Harper as leader of the Alliance which eventually gave way to the Conservative Party of Canada. Since winning minority governments in 2006 and 2008, Day has served in Harper’s cabinets as the minister for public safety, minister of international trade, minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway and the president of the Treasury Board.
Day thanked Harper for allowing him to serve under his leadership.
“That leadership has led our nation through the most troubling economic times in over half a century,” said Day. “His belief and insistence within his caucus that every MP must be allowed equal ground to speak up vigorously for their constituents is the foundation of decision making upon which we develop the policies for our nation.”
Harper said he has been honoured and grateful to have worked with Day.
“Stockwell has an outstanding record of achievement throughout his time in Parliament,” said Harper. “From his role as leader of the official opposition in 2000, to his success in several ministerial positions, Stockwell is respected and admired by all of his colleagues, his constituents and Canadians across the country.”
Local federal Liberal riding association spokesperson Monica Sahlmark congratulated Day for his work as an MP.
“Throughout his career in public life, Mr. Day has been a formidable political opponent,” said Sahlmark. “Although we have disagreed on public policy, we commend him for his dedicated years of service to our community.”
Day announced his retirement at the same time as Conservative MPs Chuck Strahl and John Cummins amid growing speculation in Ottawa that opposition parties will likely bring down the government over either the upcoming budget or a contempt of Parliament motion, recently buoyed by a ruling from Commons Speaker Peter Milliken.
“As a federal government we do not want to see an election right now, we think most Canadians want to see us stay focused on jobs and on the economy,” said Day. “(But) the opposition leaders are making noises like they want to force one. So, we have to be prudent.
“We need to be ready, and those of us who have already decided that we are not going to run again need to make sure that there are candidates in place and everything is ready to go.”
Day said he has no plans to leave the Okanagan once he has finished representing its residents.
“This is paradise,” Day said. “My wife has said if I ever think of moving, I will be moving alone. So I think I better plan to stick around.”