Chilliwack MLA John Les has confirmed he won’t be seeking a fourth term in the May provincial election, less than 24 hours after his B.C. Liberal colleague Kevin Falcon announced his cabinet exit.

Les is the parliamentary secretary to Premier Christy Clark. First elected in 2001, Les has served in cabinet with the small business and economic development, public safety and solicitor general portfolios.

He called the decision "bittersweet" in a news release Thursday, highlighting the economic achievements of the Liberal government.

"It is more important now than ever to stay the course on our economic plans," Les said. "I will do everything I can to ensure Premier Clark and the B.C. Liberal government is re-elected in May 2013. Then, it will be time for me to think about other interesting opportunities I may want to explore."

Les was mayor of Chilliwack for four terms between 1987 and 1999. He thanked his wife and six children for their support.

Education Minister George Abbott and Children and Family Development Minister Mary McNeil are expected to announce their own resignations later on Thursday.

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John Les' Full Statement:

John Les announced today that he won’t be seeking a fourth-term as the MLA for Chilliwack in the May 2013 provincial election.

“This has been a difficult decision. Since first being elected to public office as an alderman in Chilliwack in 1983, there have been countless rewarding and fulfilling experiences” Les said. “I would particularly like to pay tribute to the two Premiers with whom I have had the pleasure to serve, Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark. Both are incredible people and both have made great contributions to British Columbia.”

Les is currently serving as Parliamentary Secretary to Premier Christy Clark, and since being elected as MLA in 2001 has served as Minister of Small Business and Economic Development and Public Safety and Solicitor General. Les was Mayor of Chilliwack for four terms between 1987 and 1999, having been first elected to City Council in 1983.

Les said leaving politics is bittersweet. He’s looking forward to new challenges and exploring new opportunities. But he’s going to miss all of the dedicated people – fellow MLAs, cabinet ministers, and staff members, who have worked so hard to build a better British Columbia for the last 11 years.

“It was an honour working with such dedicated people over the years. While we didn’t always agree on all issues, there was always a unity of purpose and direction that sustained us,” Les said.

“Most especially, I wish to thank my family for joining me on this extended journey. Political life is demanding and exacting, but it is with amazement I can say I have never lacked for complete support every step of the way. Many thanks are due to my wife Mattie and our six children. As well, my constituency assistant since 2001, Pam White, has provided loyal and dedicated service, for which I am grateful.”

Les also offered his thanks to the people of Chilliwack who have repeatedly placed their confidence in him – whether it was to elect him to city hall or to the provincial legislature.

“I trust I have been able to represent the people of Chilliwack well and hope they will forgive any shortcomings on my part,” Les said. “I am grateful that Chilliwack is a thriving and growing community. Our city is now home to the University of the Fraser Valley, the Pacific Regional Training Center of the RCMP, Canada Border Services Agency, and the Justice Institute, all in the Canada Education Park, as well as many new private sector businesses. Our future is on the right track.

And what holds for Chilliwack, Les said, holds for the entire province.
“Our province went from worst to first and is now one of the leading jurisdictions in Canada, a remarkable achievement largely made possible by former Premier Campbell’s focus on economic opportunity and growth as well as investment in schools, universities, hospitals, highways, airports, and ports,” Les added. “Going forward, I am confident that Premier Clark will continue to build on these achievements with her ‘Jobs Agenda’, in particular her focus on LNG and resource development with the huge economic opportunities that can flow from those initiatives.

Les said British Columbia’s economic performance today is remarkably good, particularly in light of a fragile economic environment globally. Les will serve out his term as Chilliwack MLA and will continue to do everything he can to work for a prosperous future for all British Columbians.

“It is more important now than ever to stay the course on our economic plans,” Les said. “I will do everything I can to ensure Premier Clark and the BC Liberal government is re-elected in May 2013. Then, it will be time for me to think about other interesting opportunities I may want to explore.”

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