Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Former Tory Minister Retiring, Says He Won't Run to Lead Saskatchewan Party

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Former Tory Minister Retiring, Says He Won't Run to Lead Saskatchewan Party

Article excerpt

Gerry Ritz says he won't run for Wall's job

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OTTAWA - Gerry Ritz won't enter the race to lead the Saskatchewan Party, the long-serving Conservative MP said Thursday, after announcing he's leaving federal politics.

"It is out of the question," Ritz said in a telephone interview, suggesting he's finished with political office.

"After 25 years involved at the federal level, I'm not sure there's enough fire in the belly left to take on a challenge at that level."

That doesn't mean he won't be active in supporting someone in the race to replace outgoing Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, Ritz said.

"I just don't see myself in that capacity."

Ritz added that he has been paying close attention to the leadership race, although he hasn't yet picked a favourite to support before the party chooses a new leader in January.

In a statement posted earlier on social media, Ritz confirmed he won't be back in the Commons when House business resumes next month.

"Today, I am announcing my intent to resign as the member of Parliament for Battlefords-Lloydminster," Ritz posted on Twitter.

"I will not be returning to my seat in the House of Commons this fall."

Ritz was first elected in 1997 and held his Saskatchewan riding for two decades, first as a Reform party member, then under the Canadian Alliance banner before it merged with the Progressive Conservatives to become the Conservative party.

Between 2007 and 2015, he served as agriculture minister under former prime minister Stephen Harper, overseeing, among other things, the marquee Conservative promise to overhaul the Canadian Wheat Board.

It was during that time, in the midst of a 2008 outbreak of listeriosis that killed about 20 people, that the outspoken Ritz drew widespread condemnation for cracking a joke that the political damage from the issue was "like a death by a thousand cuts. …

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