Greg Sorbara, a long-time Liberal MPP and confidant of Premier Dalton McGuinty, is stepping down after 21 years in the Ontario legislature to help the minority Liberal government prepare for the next election.
Mr. Sorbara, a key architect of the Liberals’ consecutive victories in the past three provincial elections, plans to stay on as the party’s campaign chair. Given that the opposition can defeat the government at any time, a lot more effort is needed to get ready for a possible early election, he said at a news conference on Wednesday at the legislature, where he was flanked by his wife, Kate, and Mr. McGuinty.
“I simply cannot let my responsibilities to my constituents become a part-time pursuit,” Mr. Sorbara said.
The province is already facing one potentially game-changing by-election. Veteran Progressive Conservative Elizabeth Witmer resigned as MPP for the riding of Kitchener-Waterloo in April, after Mr. McGuinty appointed her chair of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.
The Liberals were re-elected last October with just one seat shy of a majority. A win in Kitchener-Waterloo could hand them a de facto majority. The Speaker, who can only vote if there is a tie, traditionally sides with the government.
The departure of Mr. Sorbara paves the way for a second by-election. The votes will take place the same day, but a date has not been set.
Mr. Sorbara was first elected an MPP in 1985, but left politics 10 years later. He returned in 1999 as president of the Ontario Liberal Party. He became an MPP again in 2001, after winning a by-election race in 2001, and has held several cabinet jobs, including finance minister.
Mr. Sorbara said his proudest achievement was the Ontario Child Benefit he introduced as finance minister in 2007 for low-income families. His darkest moment was in October, 2005, when he was forced to resign as finance minister because of an RCMP investigation. He was reinstated the following May after he was exonerated, but then resigned from cabinet in 2008.Report Typo/Error