OTTAWA -- Winnipeg South Conservative MP Rod Bruinooge is calling it quits in federal politics.

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OTTAWA -- Winnipeg South Conservative MP Rod Bruinooge is calling it quits in federal politics.

Bruinooge announced Wednesday he won't seek re-election when the next campaign gets underway later this year. He said after the death of his father-in-law over Christmas, he realized he didn't want to spend any more time away from his young children.

Rod Bruinooge says he is not ruling out politics at other levels of government, such as running for the provincial Tories.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Rod Bruinooge says he is not ruling out politics at other levels of government, such as running for the provincial Tories.

"It's hard not to be around for things," Bruinooge told the Free Press. "When I was first elected I didn't even have kids." His daughter, Sarah, was born more than a year after Bruinooge was first elected in 2006. She is now eight years old. His son, Luke, is six.

'It's hard not to be around for things. When I was first elected I didn't even have kids'‐ Winnipeg South Conservative MP Rod Bruinooge, on wanting to spend more time with his children

He said during his father-in-law's funeral he heard many stories about how dedicated he was to his children, and the day after the funeral he called Prime Minister Stephen Harper to say he'd made a decision about something he'd been considering for awhile.

Bruinooge said his initial plans are to focus on post-secondary advocacy work. He has been knee-deep in the issue as the chairman and founder of the Conservative post-secondary education caucus.

However, he said he is not ruling out politics at other levels of government, such as running for the provincial Tories.

"I have some thoughts on that but I'm not going to make any announcements today," he said.

In 2011, Bruinooge briefly considered running for the provincial Tory leadership but decided against it.

If he were to run provincially, it's not clear what riding he would seek. He lives in Linden Woods but that is in Fort Whyte, which is already claimed by Tory Leader Brian Pallister.

Bruinooge said his departure has nothing to do with an ethics investigation into whether he violated the conflict-of-interest code for MPs by voting on Elections Act changes that could benefit a company run by his wife. He said he is sure he will be cleared in the investigation.

Bruinooge, 41, is one of at least two-dozen Conservative MPs who aren't running again this year. (Seven NDP MPs and five Liberals are also calling it a day). So far, he is the only Manitoba MP who isn't running again.

Bruinooge first ran federally in 2004, losing to Liberal cabinet minister Reg Alcock in Winnipeg South. He then bested Alcock in an upset victory in 2006, which he says is one of his favourite memories of his time in federal politics.

"This wasn't a riding a lot of people thought was winnable," he said. "So that was pretty good."

He also counts his time as the parliamentary secretary of Indian Affairs as a high point. He held the position until the 2008 election, but declined another parliamentary secretary post citing the needs of his growing family.

Since then, Bruinooge has largely been known as an advocate for anti-abortion laws, heading up the parliamentary pro-life caucus, and introducing a private member's bill to make it an offence to coerce a woman to have an abortion. The bill never made it beyond first reading.

Tory sources were unsure who might run in Bruinooge's place, saying his departure was unexpected and there is no real succession plan in place.

mia.rabson@freepress.mb.ca