POLITICS

Ron Lemieux, Manitoba Cabinet Minister, Won't Run Again

02/29/2016 11:51 EST | Updated 03/01/2017 05:12 EST
WINNIPEG — WINNIPEG — A Manitoba cabinet minister who suffered a health scare last month is dropping out of the April 19 provincial election race and leaving politics.

Tourism Minister Ron Lemieux said Tuesday an infection developed while he was in Arizona and he required surgery to drain it.

"It was a wake-up call," Lemieux said.

ron lemieux

Manitoba Tourism Minister Ron Lemieux is now mulling retirement. (Photo: Facebook)

"It made me realize that I'd like to spend more time with family, with my grandchildren, with my friends and do other things that for the past 17 years, I haven't necessarily been able to do."

Lemieux was unable to fly home until last weekend, but said he has made a full recovery. He said the sudden illness, combined with some close friends his own age battling cancer, prompted him to rethink his future.

Lemieux has been in the legislature since 1999 and has held several cabinet portfolios including transportation, consumer affairs, education and municipal affairs.

His departure means the governing New Democrats have to find a replacement for the Dawson Trail constituency southeast of Winnipeg with just seven weeks to go until the election.

Premier Greg Selinger stood beside Lemieux on Tuesday and praised his efforts on a number of files: the construction of a downtown hockey arena, the development of long-term highway improvement plans and consumer protection laws for cellphones and other items.

"All of those things make a big difference," Selinger said.

Lemieux said his decision was not prompted by opinion polls that suggest the governing NDP is lagging far behind the Opposition Progressive Conservatives. Neither was it due to his decision last year to support former cabinet minister Theresa Oswald in her failed attempt to take the NDP leadership from Selinger, he said.

"I have three grandchildren. I want to spend more time with my family. I want to take care of my health."

Several other high-profile New Democrats have also announced in recent weeks they are not seeking re-election, including former finance minister Jennifer Howard, Justice minister Gord Mackintosh and the legislature's Speaker, Daryl Reid.

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