One of the Ontario Progressive Conservatives’ longest-serving MPPs – and a sometimes thorn in Leader Tim Hudak’s side – will leave Queen’s Park after the next election.
Former cabinet minister Frank Klees announced Tuesday night that he will not stand for re-election. In a statement, Mr. Klees said he will stay on as the representative for Newmarket-Aurora, a riding north of Toronto.
Mr. Klees, who twice ran for his party’s leadership and broke ranks this summer to call for a review of Mr. Hudak’s command of the party, gave no precise reason for his departure.
“This was a very difficult decision for me, but I am convinced that after almost two decades of public service, the time is right for me to move on to the next chapter of my life,” he said in his statement.
Mr. Klees did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
An entrepreneur in private life, Mr. Klees was first elected in the 1995 vote that swept Mike Harris to power. He served as chief whip during Mr. Harris’s second term before holding the tourism and transportation portfolios under premier Ernie Eves.
Mr. Klees, 62, lost PC leadership races to John Tory in 2004 and to Mr. Hudak in 2009.
His relationship with Mr. Hudak was rocky at times. After the 2011 election, he mused about running for Speaker, a move that could have given the Liberals a majority. He ultimately decided not to run.
This summer, he was one of two MPPs to publicly support a grassroots call for a review of Mr. Hudak’s leadership. He ultimately softened his stance, disclaiming any personal interest in the leadership.
But in his statement, Mr. Klees had only kind things to say about his boss.
“I will work with our Leader, our Caucus and our riding association to ensure that Newmarket-Aurora does its part to elect a PC Government and Tim Hudak as Premier,” he said.
In his statement, Mr. Klees listed his proudest moments as getting the Oak Ridges Moraine, a sensitive wetland north of Toronto, protected and securing a hospital expansion in his riding.