OTTAWA — Rumours are running fast and furious across Ottawa and Winnipeg tonight that Manitoba regional minister Vic Toews is about to retire.
Some sources said Toews, 60, is set to retire as early as Wednesday though others tell the Free Press it will happen, just not on Wednesday.
Officially, Toews' office would not directly comment on the matter.
"Minister Toews is in Alberta performing his duties as minister of Public Safety and reinforcing the government’s commitment to respond to the flood that has affected tens of thousands of Albertans," his spokesman Julie Carmichael said in an email.
Another source told the Free Press suggestions Toews is retiring tomorrow are not "completely correct" with the belief being Toews is retiring but the announcement won’t come Wednesday.
Stories of Toews' departure have run rampant for years. At one point, he was being vetted as a possible appointment to the judiciary in Manitoba but the appointment never came.
Sources told the Free Press Prime Minister Stephen Harper was not comfortable appointing a cabinet minister directly to the bench.
Toews has been the MP for Provencher since 2000. He was appointed to cabinet when the Conservative Party took power in 2006, first as minister of justice, then as president of the Treasury Board. He was switched to Public Safety in 2010. He has been the regional minister for Manitoba since 2006.
Toews has had his share of trouble in the last few years, particularly in the winter of 2012, when he told a Liberal MP not supporting the government’s new Internet spying bill he was akin to siding with pedophiles. The comment went viral and led to an Internet war against Toews, including an anonymous Twitter account that made public details of Toews’ divorce file. The account was later traced to a Liberal staffer who was forced to resign.
There was also a Twitter hashtag — #tellviceverything — which saw thousands of Canadians protest the bill by tweeting mundane details of their lives.
The bill was quite controversial, even among Conservatives, and was eventually benched.
Harper asked his cabinet ministers to inform him before the summer if they weren’t going to run again in 2015 because he wants to reshape his cabinet. Thus far, only Fisheries Minister Keith Ashfield has asked to be excused, after being diagnosed with cancer.
If Toews does get moved out of cabinet, it will leave a big opening for another Manitoba MP. Most believe Portage-Lisgar MP Candice Bergen and St. Boniface MP Shelly Glover are in line for promotion. Bergen is seen as a competent and eloquent MP whose fight to kill the long-gun registry proved her political mettle. Glover is bilingual and a bit of a pitbull for the Conservatives. However, her recent troubles with Elections Canada over election expenses might hurt her chances.
Manitoba has only one other cabinet minister at the moment, Minister of State for Transport Steven Fletcher.