A Conservative backbencher behind a controversial union-disclosure bill has announced he’s not seeking re-election.
Russ Hiebert, the Member of Parliament for the British Columbia riding of South Surrey–White Rock–Cloverdale, made the announcement in a written statement Thursday.
It comes as Conservative MPs face pressure to declare whether they’ll run again as the party prepares for the next federal election campaign.
First elected in 2004, Mr. Hiebert said it was time to return to a career in law.
“It has never been my ambition to be a career politician. While I am proud of the difference I have been able to make in Ottawa, both as an MP and as part of the Conservative government, it will soon be time for my family and me to move on to new challenges,” his statement said, adding Mr. Hiebert, 45, is “grateful for the strong leadership of Prime Minister Harper.”
Mr. Hiebert holds a law degree, and his statement said he planned to renew his licence, take on corporate directorships and “pursue opportunities in the private sector.” A staff member at his office in Ottawa said Mr. Hiebert would not be giving interviews after his statement Thursday.
With a vote expected late next year, Conservative MPs are deciding whether or not they will stand for re-election. The party is already beginning its nomination process to start lining up its candidates.
Mr. Hiebert’s riding is a Conservative stronghold – he won with 55 per cent of the vote in the 2011 federal election, well ahead of the second-place New Democrats at 21 per cent. Prior to his 2004 victory, the riding was held by the Canadian Alliance and Reform parties.
Mr. Hiebert has served as a parliamentary secretary to two ministries, as well as on several committees.
He’s the MP behind Bill C-377, a private member’s bill that would require unions to disclose more information, including salaries for top officials, certain transactions and lobbying time. Many of those disclosures would be posted online. It raised concerns among provinces that warned it could derail collective bargaining, while many labour groups viewed it as an attack on union and workers’ rights.
The bill has been something of a lightning rod. It passed the House of Commons earlier last year before being sent to the Senate, which sent it back to the House before the summer break. It has since passed third reading in the House of Commons and now sits once again before the Senate.
Mr. Hiebert will continue to serve as an MP until the next election, expected in late 2015.