Two Alberta farmers-turned-junior federal cabinet ministers have announced this term in office will be their last.
Ted Menzies, a grain farmer and former president of the Canadian Agri-Food Trade Alliance and Western Canadian Wheat Growers Association, and MP for the southern Alberta riding of Macleod since 2004, announced Tuesday he will not seek re-election in October 2015.
He was followed Thursday by Diane Ablonczy, MP for Calgary-Nose Hill, who managed a grain farm and also worked as a lawyer and schoolteacher before entering federal politics as a Reform MP in 1993.
Since 2011, Ablonczy has served as minister of state of foreign affairs (Americas and consular), while Menzies has been minister of state for finance.
“Witnessing the effects of the floods across southern Alberta and the devastation of High River and other communities, I have decided that it is important for me to be here more often,” Menzies — who farmed at Claresholm, about 70 km south of High River — said in a statement Tuesday.
Ablonczy said Thursday she hadn’t planned to publicly share her plans until next year, but “since some of my colleagues have recently announced that they will not seek re-election in 2015, the questions are becoming more insistent. That puts me, my family and my staff in an uncomfortable position.”
Both said they will remain as MPs until the next federal election in 2015, when boundaries for both their constituencies will be redrawn. Their decisions are likely to remove them from the cabinet table, however, when Prime Minister Stephen Harper next shuffles his ministers.
Harper on Tuesday thanked Menzies on Twitter for “helping to build a stronger Canada” and on Thursday tweeted thanks to Ablonczy for her “many years of remarkable public service to her community and country.”
Also leaving the cabinet table will be Senator Marjory LeBreton, who was in Harper’s cabinet in her role as leader of the government in the Senate.
LeBreton, an Ontario senator, was raised on a dairy farm at Nepean, Ont. and worked for over 30 years for the Progressive Conservative Party and its leaders John Diefenbaker, Robert Stanfield, Joe Clark and Brian Mulroney.
Named to the Senate by Mulroney in 1993, LeBreton sat on a number of Senate committees, including the forestry and agriculture committee, before Harper named her to cabinet in 2006.
LeBreton will remain a Conservative senator until her scheduled retirement in July 2015, but Harper said in a statement Thursday he will name a new Senate government leader before Parliament reopens this fall.
In the meantime, “I know that Senator LeBreton will continue to make an active contribution to our government’s work, particularly in the area of Senate reform,” Harper said.