Vic Toews announces his retirement from 'public life'
Published Monday, July 8, 2013 11:21AM EDT
Last Updated Monday, July 8, 2013 2:09PM EDT
Vic Toews has announced he is stepping down as a member of Parliament and from his post as minister of public safety, effective as of Tuesday.
"I am leaving public life in order to focus on my family and to pursue opportunities in the private sector," he said in a statement released Monday morning.
The resignation is not unexpected, as there has been speculation on Parliament Hill for several months that Toews was soon planning to retire from politics, CTV's Mercedes Stephenson said.
Toews' resignation opens up another spot in Prime Minister Stephen Harper's cabinet ahead of what is expected to be a major cabinet shuffle.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper had been expected to shuffle his cabinet this week, but Stephenson reports that the train derailment disaster in Lac-Megantic may delay the move.
Toews, 60, said in his statement that he was proud of what he had achieved during his time in politics.
"When I entered federal politics in 2000, I did so with the intention of making a positive contribution to Canada by being a part of the movement to unite conservatives across the country," his statement reads.
"…I leave public office at a time when I believe our country is more sensitive to the needs of victims, more fiscally sound and safer for citizens and future generations of Canadians."
Toews was first elected to the House of Commons in 2000, and was re-elected four times. In the last federal election, he won his seat with more than 70 per cent of the vote.
Before being appointed to the public safety portfolio, Toews served as solicitor general and minister of justice.
He was also named president of the Treasury Board in 2007 and 2008.
Toews was a polarizing public figure during his time in office.
During a debate on the government’s online surveillance bill in February 2012, Toews told a Liberal critic he could “either stand with us or with the child pornographers.”
In the same month, details of the safety minister’s private life were leaked on Twitter by a Liberal staffer using the handle Vikileaks30. The account shared alleged details of Toews’ divorce and quotations relating to his stance on gay marriage.
Stephenson reports there is speculation that Toews might be appointed to the bench and become a judge, but Toews’ statement makes no mention of such an appointment.
Last week, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Diane Ablonczy said she would not run for re-election. Environment Minister Peter Kent has suggested he might lose his job in the next cabinet shuffle, saying on Friday that it had been an honour to serve in cabinet, and if he lost his position, he’d be OK with that.
Last week, Alberta MP Ted Menzies said he wouldn't be running for re-election, and last month Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield stepped down to undergo cancer treatment.
As well, Senator Marjory LeBreton announced she was leaving her position as Senate government leader.
David McLaughlin, one-time chief of staff to former prime minister Brian Mulroney, says Toews’ resignation seems to indicate that Harper might be aiming to “clear the decks” with the next shuffle.
He notes that Harper and the government are down in the polls, the caucus is “restless” and they`re on the back end of their mandate.
“So this will be an important shuffle in terms of replenishing and refreshing the cabinet and more importantly, clarifying to Canadians where the prime minister wants to take the country,” McLaughlin told CTV News Channel following the announcement.
Harper thanked Toews on Twitter for his years of service.
"My sincere thanks to @toewsvic as he leaves Parliament," tweeted Harper. "Best wishes for the future."