Many political observers were shocked last week as Brian Storseth, MP for Westlock-St. Paul, announced his resignation from federal politics, effective the next general election.
Storseth, who had been previously been toying with the idea of running in the newly created riding of Lakeland–which takes part of Westlock-St. Paul and the riding of Vegreville-Wainwright–said that the decision came down to some personal issues.
“My wife and I had recently thought long and hard on it. Things had fundamentally changed for us back in October with the arrival of our twins,” he said.
“You don’t realize how much your life can change until you go through it, and I say that I love the job and still good at the job, but I’m tired of being over 4,000 kilometres away from my family.”
Before the announcement which came last week, Storseth had met with the prime minister to talk about Lakeland issues.
When asked if he told the prime minister he was stepping down after the next election, Storseth said that while the conversation was private, the topic did come up.
“We talked about the key issues that are important in the Lakeland area and it would have been a topic that we would have discussed as well,” he said.
Moments after the announcement, Storseth’s future in politics was teased in political circles, with a possible run for provincial politics.
Storseth wouldn’t say if he would step into the political arena again, but only said that he has had discussions with people asking him to run.
“At this point in time, we have had some offers and opportunities from different industries back in Alberta, but my wife and I are going to take a few weeks and contemplate what we want to do,” he said.
“We have still lots of energy and it’s been a good run federally. I always said that I wanted to run for 10 years, and it will be 9.5 when the next election rolls around.”
Storseth said that the right thing at this time for his family is looking for opportunities closer to home in Alberta.
Leon Benoit, MP for Vegreville-Wainwright, who had previously indicated that he would not seek the riding of Lakeland if Storseth was, said that with the departure of his fellow MP, the idea of running in the riding is back on the table, but he isn’t making a decision right now.
“It really doesn’t change anything for me, but I’ll kind of consider that,” he said. “I haven’t made an announcement on what I am doing, but I will consider the possibility of running in the riding now.
“Really, I guess that if I wanted to run, I would have run anyway.”
Benoit acknowledged that the departure of Storseth for the next general election leaves the possibility open for Benoit to once again represent the people of Lloydminster. The riding of Lakeland has encompassed parts of where Benoit has held since being first elected in 1993, under the Reform Party of Canada banner.