Tuesday, April 3, 2007

another liberal jumps ship, oops retires

Time right to retire, Liberal MP Matthews says
April 3, 2007 CBC

Liberal MP Bill Matthews, a 10-year veteran of the House of Commons, announced Tuesday he will not seek re-election in the next federal election.

"After 25 years in public life and eight elections … it's time to move on and let someone else take the reins," said Matthews, 59, who had earlier said he was planning a re-election bid.

"I skirted the issue for the last couple of weeks [but] it's everyone's best interests that I move on."

Just last week, Matthews was thrown out of the House after he called Prime Minister Stephen Harper a liar.

Harper has come under fire for backing away from a 2006 election campaign pledge to exclude non-renewable resources from the federal equalization formula.

Matthews said opinion polls that show growing support for the federal Conservatives had nothing to do with his decision.
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Indeed, he said Premier Danny Williams's crusade against the federal Tories would likely have given him a landslide victory.

"Seeking re-election in Newfoundland and Labrador as an incumbent MP … could not have been better," he told CBC News Tuesday. "The chances were as good as they ever have been for me."

Matthews predicted that his successor as Random-Burin-St. George's Liberal candidate will sail to victory.

Matthews noted that Conservative Cynthia Downey, who narrowly lost to Matthews in the 2006 election, withdrew from the race to seek the Tory nomination because of her opposition to Harper's turnabout on equalization.
Crossed floor in 1999

Matthews was first elected to the House in 1997 as a Progressive Conservative. He crossed the floor in August 1999 to join the then Liberal government as a backbencher.

He was re-elected in the southern Newfoundland riding of Random-Burin-St. George's in each subsequent election.

Matthews is the second MP from Newfoundland and Labrador to announce his plans to retire within the last month. St. John's East MP Norm Doyle, a Conservative, said in March this will be his last term in Parliament.

Like Doyle, Matthews had a lengthy career in Newfoundland and Labrador politics before entering the federal arena.

As a Progressive Conservative, Matthews represented the Burin Peninsula district of Grand Bank between 1982 and 1996, when he retired from the house of assembly.

He sat in the provincial cabinet between 1985 and 1989, holding portfolios in culture, recreation and youth, and in career development and advanced studies.

After the PCs were turfed in the 1989 election, Matthews served for several years as Opposition house leader.

Matthews said he will continue to serve until Parliament is dissolved and an election is called.