Longtime Saskatchewan MP Gerry Ritz is calling it a career in Ottawa.
The 20-year parliamentary veteran announced his retirement from politics Thursday morning, leaving as one of the longest serving Conservative MPs.
He joined John Gormley Live to talk about his retirement, saying he wants to spend more time with family.
“I’ve got a birthday coming up for my grandson, he’s 10 … Of his 10 birthdays I think I’ve only been to three,” he said.
“It’s time to reconnect with family and friends.”
Ritz was elected as a Reform MP for Battlefords-Lloydminster in 1997, eventually becoming a member of the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) when it was formed in 2004.
The 66-year-old would be considered the longest-serving CPC MP, if not for the fact Deepak Obhrai was sworn in minutes before him after the 1997 election.
Ritz served as federal agriculture minister from 2007 to 2015 under the Stephen Harper government, owing to his pre-politics life as a farmer.
He also retires after having won seven consecutive elections in the Battlefords-Lloydminster riding.
“It’s all about timing and marketing,” he said.
“I had a great bunch of leaders … certainly, issues that were favourable to the conservative stance.”
Asked what he’s proud of getting done during his time in government, Ritz pointed to the 2012 elimination of the Canadian Wheat Board.
“The numbers don’t lie. Farmers in western Canada have done far better without the mandatory nature of the Canadian Wheat Board,” he said.
Ritz said he’ll be informing the speaker of the House of Commons to remove his name from any roll calls or seating charts, which will direct Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to call for a byelection in the Battlefords-Lloydminster riding.