View From the Hill by Keith Beardsley – Which Harper MP’s To Stay Go? Jan 16, 2014

Dr. EvilCFN – To stay or go, that is the question many Conservative MPs will be asking themselves this year. This was highlighted by Brian Jean’s announcement that he is leaving the federal political scene this month. You have to wonder if Jean’s  (along with Ted Menzies and Merv Tweed) decision is but one of potentially many that we will see in the coming months.

MPs retire for a number of reasons and it doesn’t matter to which party they belong. Some simply don’t want to face another grueling election battle or open nomination fight. Others tire of the long hours, the travel time and separation from their families. Others become disillusioned with their role in parliament which is more often than not the opposite of what they envisioned when they first ran for office.

Other MPs feel that they have not received sufficient recognition for their work on behalf of the party or leader. They envy those who have become committee chairs or Parliamentary Secretaries or advanced to the pinnacle of political success and become a cabinet minister. For others ego trumps ability. Whatever the reason, over time, especially when there is a long break from the Hill, they have time to reflect on their future.

With the polls not being particularly helpful for the Conservatives right now, it is to be expected that most announcements will come from that side. After all if you are a Liberal MP you might be forgiven for thinking it best to wait things out until after the next election- the temptation of being in power is hard to resist.

NDP MPs might have felt the same way after Layton’s success in bringing them Official Opposition status. But again the polls have not been kind to them.

With roughly two years to go until the next election, there is plenty of time to do some quiet job hunting. If under pensionable age, it certainly is something that they will have to consider.

A quick scan down the Conservative list shows some 90 MPs with the required 6 years of service and another 35 who will reach 6 years’ service in October 2014. Even without taking their pensionable age into consideration, there is no doubt that a number of MPs will be using this break period to contemplate their future.

When opportunity knocks some MPs will decide enough is enough. No one can predict how many, but it is pretty safe to say we haven’t seen the last member of the Conservative caucus decide that their future is not in Ottawa, but instead it lies in some other part of the country in a different line of work.

To stay or go, that is the question.

Keith Beardsley is a senior strategist for True North Public Affairs in Ottawa, as well as a blogger and political analyst. He can often be found running or cycling on his favorite bike trails. To sponsor this column please  email!

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