Environment Minister Peter Kent, who turns 70 this month, has released a statement strongly suggesting he may be leaving cabinet in a looming shuffle of Stephen Harper’s governing team.
“If, in the fullness of time and the eventual shuffle, I do find myself a backbench Parliamentarian, I will enthusiastically embrace what will be, for me, exciting new challenges,” Mr. Kent said in a post to his Facebook page Friday morning.
“Although still officially hypothetical, I would be able to better devote myself to my Thornhill constituents, to their issues, and to the issues of the Greater Toronto Area.”
He’s one of a growing number of ministers who have been speaking out publicly about their plans for the future ahead of a federal cabinet shuffle expected any day now.
Three other cabinet ministers have signalled they intend to quit as MPs as of the next election and there is heavy speculation that Public Safety Minister Vic Toews will shortly do the same.
Mr. Kent, however, says on his Facebook page that he plans to run again.
Still, the Thornhill, Ont. MP appears to be preparing for a return to the backbenches.
“Whatever the outcome of the impending changes to Cabinet, I firmly intend to stand for re-election in 2015,” Mr. Kent wrote.
“While it has been a great honour to have served in cabinet, political service does not begin or end in that revered body.”
He even says he understands the need for change in cabinet.
“Our Conservative caucus has an abundance of talented MPs and it is only appropriate that other, younger men and women should take a turn in cabinet. I will fully support the PM’s eventual decisions,” Mr. Kent wrote.
“It has been an honour, since 2008, to proudly represent the GTA constituency of Thornhill in the House of Commons. Prime Minister Harper amplified that honour when he appointed me to his Cabinet, first as the Minister of State of Foreign Affairs (Americas) and, since January 2011, as Minister of the Environment.”
He said he posted this message “given increasing speculation regarding the coming cabinet shuffle, statements from a number of esteemed colleagues that they will not run in the 2015 election and should not be considered for cabinet, and, in response to concerns expressed by Thornhill constituents.”
In preparation for the shuffle, Mr. Harper asked ministers to tell him whether they plan to run again so he can take that into account when he remakes his cabinet.
Diane Ablonczy, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs (Americas and Consular Services) revealed Thursday she will not seek re-election after more than 20 years in the Commons. Ms. Ablonczy said she hadn't planned to announce until next year that this was her last term, but felt pressure to speak up now.
Earlier this week, Minister of State for Finance Ted Menzies signalled he intends to bow out as of the next ballot, and late last month Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield, who is fighting cancer, indicated he'd asked Mr. Harper to excuse him from cabinet as of the shuffle.
Senator Marjory LeBreton said Thursday she would step down as Leader of the Government in the Senate. Mr. Harper signalled her replacement would not sit in cabinet as Ms. LeBreton and most of her predecessors did.