The Ontario Liberals have lost another MPP, triggering a by-election at a cumbersome time for Premier Kathleen Wynne’s minority government.
Kim Craitor, the maverick, motorcycle-riding member for Niagara Falls, resigned abruptly Tuesday, the sixth Liberal to quit the legislature in the last year.
“While it is never a good time to leave, after ten very productive and rewarding years, now I need to put my health and family first,” Mr. Craitor, 67, said in a statement. “The job of being the Provincial Member of Parliament has been an immensely satisfying job.”
He didn't say why he was leaving and could not be reached for comment.
The president of his riding association said “nothing specific” triggered his departure.
“Every member of provincial parliament reaches a point where they decide it’s time to move on,” Karen Gansel said. “It’s simply a matter of for most MPPs, it does take a toll after a while.”
Mr. Craitor, who had health trouble a few years ago, has also been touted as a possible mayoral candidate.
In his statement, Mr. Craitor said he sent his resignation letter to the Speaker of the legislature Monday. Ms. Wynne only learned of the news the following day.
“I thank him for his service and wish him luck in his future endeavours,” she said in a statement released during a caucus meeting.
A former municipal politician, Mr. Craitor was first elected to the legislature in 2003 and re-elected twice. He was often openly critical of his own government’s policies, such as cutting hospital services in his riding.
In a biographical sketch, his office described him as a “retail politician” who worked late into the night returning constituents’ phone calls. Mr. Craitor was also parliamentary assistant to the solicitor-general.
His resignation comes at a difficult time for the Grits. They must call a by-election within six months, with an election period of 29 days after that, Elections Ontario confirmed. With a general election expected next spring, Mr. Craitor’s resignation means Ms. Wynne will have either have to hold a by-election just months before a potential general vote, or force a decision on a general election by the end of March.
Holding Mr. Craitor’s seat will also be a tough slog for the Grits. The party only won by a few hundred votes in 2011, a victory largely attributed to Mr. Craitor’s personal popularity. Both the Progressive Conservatives and the New Democrats mounted credible campaigns, setting the stage for a likely three-way fight.
In five by-elections this summer, the Liberals lost three seats, while the NDP gained two and the Tories one.
With a report from Adam Radwanski