Canada Politics

Conservative Cabinet Minister Vic Toews announces his retirement from politics

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Vic Toews

It's official: Public Safety Minister Vic Toews is exiting Parliament Hill.

In a lengthy statement released on Monday, the sometimes controversial politico from Manitoba said that after a "great amount of consideration" he is retiring his cabinet post and his seat in Parliament effective Tuesday.

"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," he said in the statement.

"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."

Toews then listed some of those achievements:

"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. 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," he said.

"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."

[ Related: Harper ally Marjory LeBreton stepping down as Government Senate Leader ]

Toews has had a rocky road both politically and personally over the past couple of years and has been rumoured to be retiring for some time.

The former crown attorney, university instructor and MLA was first elected to Parliament in 2000, as a Canadian Alliance member and has served as the Minister of Justice and Attorney General and President of the Treasury Board. His most current role was as Minister of Public Safety — a role that has had him at the forefront of the Conservative Party's 'tough on crime' agenda.

[ More Canadian Politics: When tragedy strikes, should opposition leaders bite their tongues? ]

As Public Safety Minister, Toews — along with Jusice Minister Rob Nicholson — became the target of progressive groups who resisted legislation such as Bill C-10, the omnibus crime bill which, among a lot of other things, introduced tougher penalties for drug crimes and young offenders.

Toews' biggest controversy, however was with Bill C-30, the so-called online surveillance bill.

Bill C-30, introduced by the Harper government in February 2012, would, in some instances, have given police access to information about Canadians' online behaviour — with limited judicial oversight — via Internet service provider (ISPs) records

The legislation resulted in wide spread backlash from the public. Toews even became the target of a massive online campaign which publicized details of his nasty divorce proceedings.

The senior minister has also experienced some health problems — in April 2012, Toews was admitted to hospital for an irregular heartbeat.

Toews, 60, says that he will now pursue opportunities in the private sector.

This announcement comes just days before an impending cabinet shuffle that could come as early as Wednesday.

Ahead of the shuffle, according to reports, Prime Minister Harper had asked his caucus to let him know if they would run in the 2015 election.

In recent weeks, three other MPs said that they would not be running again: Diane Ablonczy, Ted Menzies and Keith Ashfield.

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