After a decade in provincial politics, former premier Rodney MacDonald has announced he will step down from his seat in the Nova Scotia legislature before the fall.
"I've given a lot of thought to this over the course of the summer and both where I am at personally and professionally, and it became more and more evident that this was the right decision to make," MacDonald said Wednesday in an interview.
In June, Mr. MacDonald, 37, resigned from the leadership of the Progressive Conservatives after the party's crushing defeat in a historic provincial vote that elected the first NDP government east of Ontario.
The Tories were reduced to third-place status, winning just 10 seats in the 52-seat legislature.
Despite relinquishing the leadership, the party said Mr. MacDonald would continue to serve as a member of the legislature for the riding of Inverness in Cape Breton.
Just three weeks ago, interim Tory leader Karen Casey appointed Mr. MacDonald as critic for health promotion and tourism.
But Mr. MacDonald said spending time over the summer with his family, including his son, Ryan, made him think twice about his future in provincial politics.
"I've spent a lot of time away from my young son during the past 10 years. He's 11 years old now," he said.
"And so, from that perspective, I gained a better appreciation during the past couple of months just how much time I have spent away."
The former gym teacher and award-winning fiddler said he hasn't made any concrete plans for his political afterlife.
"This (decision) is not geared towards any immediate career change or anything like that," he said. "At the present time, I haven't made any plans."
Still, Mr. MacDonald - who represented the rural riding of Inverness for 10 years - wouldn't close the door on making a political comeback at some point in the future.
"We'll just see what the future brings," he said, noting that many politicians don't start their careers until their 40s or 50s.
"I've learned one thing in politics - never say never."
Mr. MacDonald became the province's second-youngest premier - and held the top job for three years - after winning the party's leadership convention in February 2006. Before becoming premier, MacDonald held various cabinet portfolios.
Opposition Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil said Wednesday he wasn't surprised by Mr. MacDonald's announcement.
While he doesn't subscribe to Conservative politics, Mr. McNeil said he didn't doubt his former opponents' commitment to the province.
"One of the things I think I never questioned was that Rodney genuinely believed in the direction he was trying to take this province, he felt he was doing what was in the best interests of Nova Scotia," he said.
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