Former Reform Party ag critic leaving Commons

A prominent northern British Columbia farmer turned federal politician and government House leader plans to retire from politics before the end of this month.

Jay Hill, the Conservative MP for Prince George-Peace River, announced Monday he plans to retire effective Oct. 25, the 17th anniversary of his first election to the House of Commons.

“It is ultimately up to each of us, as members of Parliament, to determine when is the right time to leave, when the passion begins to wane, when we may no longer be sufficiently motivated to give the job the 100 per cent our constituents deserve,” Hill said in a speech Monday in the Commons.

“We’re fortunate if we can choose the time of our departure rather than our constituents making that choice for us. For me, that time is now.”

Hill, who was raised near Taylor, just south of Fort St. John on the Alaska Highway, worked in forestry and in the oil and gas industry before returning to farming with his parents and brother in 1975, later taking over the farm in 1991.

During his time in farming, Hill served as president of the B.C. Grain Producers Association, as a director with both the B.C. Federation of Agriculture and Soil Conservation Canada, and as chair of the B.C. Provincial Seed Fair.

He first ran federally for the Reform Party in 1988 and won his seat in 1993, handling various critic portfolios including agriculture and agri-food (1997-98), transport (2000-01) and Western Economic Diversification (1996-97).

He also served at various times as party whip for the Reform Party, Canadian Alliance, Progressive Conservative/Democratic Representative caucus and Conservatives, before becoming the Conservatives’ House leader in 2005 and government House leader in 2008, a post he held up until August this year.

Hill, who lives with his wife in Fort St. John and has three grown children, didn’t say in his release Monday what he plans to do upon retirement. Several online news reports quoted him as saying he plans to move to Calgary.

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