Bob Rae is bidding goodbye to federal politics, quitting his seat as a Liberal MP to focus his energies as a negotiator for northern Ontario chiefs on the potentially massive Ring of Fire development.
An emotional Mr. Rae said he will soon turn 65 and said that he has no plans to return to politics, specifically nixing any foray into municipal politics in the 2014 Toronto election.
“Never say never, but it certainly closes the door for now,” Mr. Rae said.
Asked to explain why he was teary-eyed, Mr. Rae said: “I had a choice to make, and it was a hard choice, and when we make hard choices, we show emotions.”
Standing next to Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, Mr. Rae said that he is optimistic about the future of his party and knows that he is giving up a shot at being a minister.
“I’m more than confident that Mr. Trudeau will become the prime minister of Canada, and I know what I’m giving up when I say that I won’t be here in this next leg of the journey,” Mr. Rae said.
Mr. Trudeau praised Mr. Rae for taking on the position of interim party leader after the party’s disastrous showing in the 2011 election.
“The history books will also remember someone who was a great leader for the Liberal Leader during very difficult times,” Mr. Trudeau said. “We will miss his wisdom and his experience, but we will miss mostly his passion.”
Mr. Rae won accolades from all parties for his parliamentary expertise as he stepped aside as interim Liberal leader this spring. He announced his final exit to his fellow Liberal MPs and senators at a caucus meeting on Wednesday, with one senator saying “it was moving.”
Mr. Rae was the MP for Toronto Centre since 2008. His departure will create another vacancy in the House of Commons after the resignation earlier this month of Denis Coderre, who left to run for the position of Montreal mayor in the fall.
Mr. Rae said he has been spending much time working with native leaders in northern Ontario, and plans to dedicate much of his time and energy to the aboriginal cause.
“You may have noticed my occasional absences over the last few weeks. Or worse, you didn’t notice my absences,” Mr. Rae told reporters. “I will be stepping down as the member of Parliament for Toronto Centre to continue my work as a lawyer, a mediator and someone who gets involved in conflict resolution both in Canada and elsewhere.”