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NDP MP Libby Davies asks a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Friday, Feb. 1, 2013.

Sean Kilpatrick/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Veteran Member of Parliament and deputy leader of the NDP, Libby Davies, will not be running for re-election.

Ms. Davies, 61, was first elected as the MP for Vancouver East in 1997 and was re-elected five times. She made the announcement Friday at her constituency office.

"I'm a bit tired," Ms. Davies said during a news conference in her constituency office, when asked why she was retiring from federal politics.

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Adding in stints in municipal politics, Ms. Davies noted she has been in public life for almost 40 years. She ran twice for Vancouver city council in the 1970s and was elected to parks board in 1980 and elected to city council in 1980.

"I really feel it's time to call it a day. It's really a personal decision just about timing and contemplating if I want to go in another election and realizing once we have the election and, hopefully if I had been re-elected, it would be possibly another four years."

The former Vancouver city councillor is known as a strong voice for the left wing of the NDP. In addition to serving as one of three deputy leaders to party leader Thomas Mulcair, Ms. Davies is also the party's health critic.

Earlier this month, the House of Commons voted unanimously to support a motion from Ms. Davies calling for "full support" to survivors of thalidomide, a federally-approved drug prescribed in the early 1960s to pregnant mothers that led to severe birth defects.

Ms. Davies said she had worked well with Mr. Mulcair, downplaying suggestions from a reporter that she may have been at odds with centrist moves by Mr. Mulcair.

"I have a very good relationship with him," she said. "He has a lot of experience, which we need to have in terms of the upcoming election."

She noted "vigorous debate" is an NDP tradition party leaders have welcomed and she has contributed to. "That's what makes it feel good to be part of that caucus."

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Mr. Mulcair said in a statement issued Friday afternoon that Ms. Davies will always remain a core member of the NDP family.

"Libby is not only a wonderful and dedicated colleague, she is a cherished friend. I wish her nothing but the very best in her life after politics," said Mr. Mulcair. "Libby's work in Vancouver, as a passionate advocate for social housing and health care is well known and respected wherever I am in the country."

Ms. Davies supported the New Politics Initiative in the early 2000s, a movement that was concerned the NDP had moved too far to the political centre under then-leader Alexa McDonough. The movement faded in 2003 when Jack Layton won the party leadership with the support of Ms. Davies.

Labour economist Jim Stanford, who worked with Ms. Davies as part of the NPI movement, had high praise for the MP Friday upon hearing of her decision.

"I think she's one of the most principled and effective politicians I've ever met in my life. She's an outstanding individual," said Mr. Stanford, who is chief economist for Unifor. Mr. Stanford said Ms. Davies is known for working on issues like violence against aboriginal women, public health issues like safe injection sites and poverty issues, particularly in her riding.

"It's certainly a loss for the NDP caucus," he said.

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The NDP under Ms. Davies easily won the riding of Vancouver East in the 2011 federal election with 63 per cent of the vote, well ahead of the Conservative candidate, Irene Yatco, who finished second with 19 per cent. The Liberals, who are hoping to make inroads in B.C. under new leader Justin Trudeau, finished third in Vancouver East with 10 per cent of the vote.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson saluted Ms. Davies for her public service.

"I want to thank Libby for her years of service as a Vancouver MP and her willingness to tackle difficult issues," he said in a statement. "She has been a fierce champion for our most vulnerable residents and brought about real change that has helped save lives. Her years of advocacy on drug addiction and the safety of sex workers has shifted public opinion in Vancouver and across the country."

Ms. Davies said she has no future "grand plan" for her next professional move, but will remain politically active as long as that does not involve running for elected office again.

"Political activism can take many different roles and forms. I'm pretty sure I am going to be involved, one way or another, in a number of issues," Ms. Davies said.

She said she will not be endorsing a candidate in the looming NDP nomination race to elect a new party candidate for the riding.

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