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Another position in Harper’s cabinet opens: junior finance minister to step aside

Canada's Minister of State for Finance Ted Menzies speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa October 22, 2012.

CHRIS WATTIE/REUTERS

Another seat has opened up around Prime Minister Stephen Harper's cabinet table with news that a Conservative MP from Alberta won't be running in the next federal election.

Ted Menzies, minister of state for finance, announced today that he wants to spend more time in his home province — and that he doesn't want to be a cabinet minister.

Menzies said he's been travelling throughout his riding of Macleod since floods hit the area in June and he's been struck by what he's seen.

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His riding includes the town of High River, Alta., where all 13,000 people were told to evacuate during the floods.

"Witnessing the effects of the floods across southern Alberta, and the devastation of High River and other communities, I have decided that it is important for me to be here more often," Menzies said in a statement.

"What brought me to Ottawa was a love of community and the desire to help Albertans and Canadians the best way I knew possible."

For that reason, Menzies said, he won't seek re-election in 2015 in his riding, but plans to continue to sit as an MP until then.

"For the next two years I will continue to do all I can for Macleod, here in the riding and in Ottawa," he said.

"Because of this decision, I have asked Prime Minister Harper not to consider my name for any future cabinet position."

Menzies was first elected in 2004 and became Finance Minister Jim Flaherty's second-in-command in 2011.

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In advance of a planned cabinet shuffle later this month, the prime minister has been quietly making inquiries as to who in his caucus intends to run in the next election and who is stepping aside.

Menzies' announcement creates a least a second spot for Harper to fill; Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield said in June that he's asked to be left out of the next cabinet after being diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma.

Harper could also choose to appoint a new intergovernmental affairs minister.

Former minister Peter Penashue resigned in March — and lost in a subsequent by-election — after concerns emerged about his election spending. His portfolio is being handled by Transport Minister Denis Lebel.

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