12/19/2014 05:08 EST | Updated 02/18/2015 05:59 EST

Long-serving Saskatchewan NDP MLA says he won't run in next provincial election

REGINA - Saskatchewan's NDP is losing one of its longest-serving members.

John Nilson announced Friday he won't be running in the next provincial election.

Nilson has represented the Regina Lakeview constituency since 1995.

He has held a number of different portfolios, including justice.

Nilson was the justice minister in 1999 when David Milgaard's cash settlement was finalized for his wrongful conviction in 1970.

Before his political career, Nilson studied at universities in Washington, Minnesota and even Oslo, Norway before receiving his law degree from the University of British Columbia.

"It's very difficult," Nilson said about his retirement, "because it's part of your life."

Nilson was the interim leader of the NDP from 2011 to March 2013.

"I will also miss, in the assembly down the road, having a 6 foot, 5-inch Viking," MLA Trent Wotherspoon joked. "He's a physical force."

He and his wife, Linda, live near the legislature — their home was even featured in the 2005 film "Just Friends."

They have two daughters, Ingrid and Solveig, who Nilson says have always kept him down to earth.

"I would get this comment from one or both of my daughters: 'Could I have some more milk, Mr. Minister?'"