Provencher MP Vic Toews will resign effective Tuesday, according to a statement released by Toews today.
The statement says Public Safety Minister Toews is to pursue interests in the private sector.
"It takes a great deal of deliberation on the part of those who decide to enter politics," Toews said in the statement. "It takes an even greater amount of consideration and effort to step out of office when one still enjoys the support of those who elected them.
"However, for me, the time has come to step aside and begin the next chapter of my life."
"It will be a loss for our province and our party. Vic Toews has done a lot in areas that matter to Canadians," said Charleswood-St. James-Assiniboia MP Steven Fletcher, who also serves and minister of state for transport.
"I sat with Vic in Treasury Board, and I could see him behind closed doors, the thoughtfulness he put into each of his submission and I certainly leaned a lot from him."
"My sincere thanks to @toewsvic as he leaves Parliament," tweeted Prime Minister Stephen Harper. "Best wishes for the future."
"Best wishes to my friend and colleague @ToewsVic as he leaves public life after 13 years of service," said Jason Kenney, minister of citizenship, immigration and multiculturalism.
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation says Toews is entitled to a pension of $79,584 a year, indexed to inflation.
Toews was a polarizing political figure. The Globe and Mail newspaper disabled the comments section on the story about his departure because "an overwhelming number of readers were making offensive statements about other commenters and/or the individual or individuals mentioned in the story."
Toews drew derision during a debate on the government's online surveillance bill in February 2012 for telling a Liberal critic he could "either stand with us or with the child pornographers." He later softened his stance somewhat.
His private life was thrust into the spotlight that same month when a Liberal staffer created a Twitter account called Vikileaks30 and began releasing bite-sized portions from Toews's divorce.
Toews resignation unleashed a torrent of vitriol online as many rejoiced in his departure while a few others commended him for his service. There were snide comments about everything from his messy divorce to his political legacy.
Federal NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus said he doesn't think Toews leaves much of a legacy.
"Mr. Toews has been in politics for many years. I think unfortunately all too often we saw spite and short-sightedness instead of gravitas. I think that that's all I can say about Mr. Toews."
Added NDP justice critic Francoise Boivin: "I wish him all the best for his future work but very humbly and candidly, I'd say that many of my colleagues and myself won't miss his insults."
Sheldon Kennedy, a former NHL player who was sexually abused by coach Graham James and now advocates for victims, said Toews has a strong legacy.
When news broke that James — who repeatedly molested several players in his charge for years — had been quietly granted a pardon, Toews worked quickly to ensure that would never happen again by changing the law, Kennedy said.
"To be able to eliminate pardons for sex offenders, I think is huge," Kennedy said. "Vic's made some hard changes that ... you know you're going to get flak for and he made them because they needed to be made not because they're popular."
Bergen, Glover eyed for promotion
Speculation has already begun as to who will take Toews's place as Manitoba's regional cabinet minister. Some are betting the province's new voice will be a woman.
Richard Sigurdson, dean of arts at the University of Calgary, said Manitoba backbenchers Shelly Glover and Candice Bergen could be due for a promotion.
"This is not your father's Conservative party," he said. "The prime minister does have some interesting possibilities going forward and many of those possibilities will look quite a bit different from Vic Toews."
Manitoba’s next senior minister will have to contend with a few hot potatoes. They include negotiations on the new federal infrastructure fund, which often sees the building priorities of the city, province and Ottawa collide.
There are also trade and border issues, including the ongoing development of CentrePort, and funding for flood mitigation and compensation.
With files from The Canadian Press
Toews' full statement
STEINBACH, MB July 8, 2013 — Today I am announcing my resignation as Member of Parliament for Provencher, Minister of Public Safety, and Regional Minister for Manitoba, effective tomorrow, Tuesday, July 9th.
It has been an honour to represent the people of Provencher for the past 12-and-a-half years in the House of Commons. I would like to express my gratitude to my constituents for placing their trust in me. It is a responsibility I took very seriously and a privilege I will never forget.
I would like to thank Prime Minister Stephen Harper for giving me the opportunity to serve in his Cabinet as the Regional Minister for Manitoba since 2006 and, concurrently, in turn, as the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, the President of the Treasury Board, and as Minister of Public Safety. Our Prime Minister is a man of great character and integrity. His leadership has seen our country through very difficult economic times in an exemplary fashion. Canada is recognized as a global leader and is the envy of nations around the world. I know that Canadians will continue to benefit from this government’s ongoing work.
I would also like to thank all of my parliamentary colleagues for their friendship and support. Specifically, I would like to thank the members of the Manitoba Federal Conservative caucus. I could not be more proud of you and the work you do on behalf of our Province.
I would not have been able to do my job if not for the competent and talented staff members who worked beside me over the years. Thank you to all of my staff in my riding offices, my regional office in Winnipeg and to my political and departmental staff in Ottawa. You have always been extremely dedicated and hard working. You have had a very positive impact on my life and for that I will always be grateful.
The lifeblood of any political organization is its volunteers. Over the years I have met many volunteers who have worked hard on my campaigns and in many other capacities between elections. You have made all the difference. Thank you for your tireless efforts and enthusiasm.
I would like to thank my spouse Stacey, my children and my extended family and friends for their patience and understanding. There are tremendous sacrifices made by family members so that elected officials can serve in public office. It is not an easy life for family and words alone cannot describe my gratitude for their unyielding support.
When I entered federal politics in 2000, I did so with the intention of making a positive contribution to Canada by being a part of the movement to unite conservatives across the country. Looking back, I believe I accomplished what I did because of my desire to work with other like-minded people. Teamwork is the best way for individual Members of Parliament to accomplish the long-term goals of their constituents.
I leave public office at a time when I believe our country is more sensitive to the needs of victims, more fiscally sound and safer for citizens and future generations of Canadians.
I am proud of the achievements of our government over the last seven years. In addition to the numerous steps we have taken to rebalance the criminal justice system to ensure that criminals are held accountable to individual victims and Canadian society as a whole, we were able to renew Canada’s physical infrastructure. My home province of Manitoba received support for hundreds of important projects, including funds for the completion of the Red River Floodway Expansion Project.
During my time as Minister of Public Safety, I was honoured to support the Prime Minister in the negotiation and implementation of the Beyond the Border Action Plan. I was also particularly proud that our government created Canada’s first Counter-Terrorism and Cyber-Security strategies, implemented a Human Trafficking Action Plan, and began a discussion with all levels of government on the economics of policing in Canada. These accomplishments are just some of the ways our government has made Canada a stronger, safer and more prosperous country.
It takes a great deal of deliberation on the part of those who decide to enter politics. It takes an even greater amount of consideration and effort to step out of office when one still enjoys the support of those who elected them. However, for me, the time has come to step aside and begin the next chapter of my life.
I am leaving public life in order to focus on my family and to pursue opportunities in the private sector. I leave with a store of many wonderful memories, lifelong friendships and a sense of having accomplished many of the things I set out to do when I first began my political journey.
To all who made this possible, thank you.
Vic Toews, P.C., Q.C., LLB, B.A.
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