Stockwell Day will not run again

Okanagan-Coquihalla MP Stockwell Day announced Saturday he will not seek re-election in the next federal election.

Despite recent rumblings out of Ottawa suggesting a federal election is near, Day says his mind was made up much earlier.

"This is just the way it is. I had indicated some time ago to the Prime Minister that I would not be seeking re-election and he was surprised by that, but he respected my decision and just asked that we wait until it gets near to what may be an election. We don't think that there should be an election. Our hope is that we'll continue to be able to focus on jobs and the economy, but clearly it looks like the Opposition are heading it that way so we felt it would be the proper time to do this."

The announcement, made at Quail's Gate Winery in West Kelowna, came almost 25 years to day from when he first entered politics.

"On March 17, it will be the 25th anniversary of our first nomination to public office, and it's been 25 really amazing years" says Day.

"We've had about 14 years in provincial politics and another 11 at the federal level and we feel it's time to move on. This is definitely not retirement but it is realignment."

Day said he had made the decision carefully and with prayerful consideration along with his wife Valorie, who was by his side during Saturday's announcement.

"As I think back over the years, gratitude is the overwhelming emotion that Val and I both feel today. Certainly I feel huge gratitude to her. Many times people use that cliche about a spouse standing beside the other spouse, but its been far more than that. There's been many times where she's been behind me pushing me forward, and there's other times she's had to step in front and say 'slow down'."

Day also acknowledged the years of support he received from those around him.

"We're so thankful, we've been blessed over the years with great family support, great supporters, workers and volunteers, people who have really stuck with us. One of the most meaningful things for us about political life is the incredible support we've had from so many people."

On July 8, 2000, Day was elected as the first Leader of the Canadian Alliance Party. In September 2000, he won over 70% of the vote in a by-election for the Okanagan-Coquihalla riding, and has served as its MP since then. On September 19th, 2000, he became the Leader of her Majesty's Loyal Opposition in the House of Commons.

In the 2000 national election campaign, The Alliance would increase their party results in every region of the country.

The Canadian Alliance also increased its seat count from 58 to 66 members, saw its popular vote rise by over 1 million votes, elected two new MPs in Ontario, placed second in over 80 Ontario ridings and drastically increased its support in Quebec.

Day, who would lose the Alliance leadership to Stephen Harper in 2002, stayed at his side through the merger with the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada to form the Conservative Party of Canada.

Since then, he has held several high profile cabinet posts, including his current role as treasury board president, and was thankful to the Prime Minister.

"I'm very appreciative of our Prime Minister, an outstanding leader in Canada who has given me great opportunities to serve with him. And, of course to the people here in this incredible constituency, who time after time and election after election continue to trust us with the ability to represent them."

Day would not elaborate on his future, but instead says he'll continue to work hard until the next election.

"Right now I'm focused 100 per cent on the remainder of the mandate. We're blessed with great health and good energy. We'll be focusing that energy on family and other projects that hopefully will continue to benefit the country and benefit our quality of life."

He also admitted there would undoubtedly be "exciting and satisfying" days ahead if had decided to continue his political career.

There is widespread speculation that Canadians will go to the polls in May, based on the likelihood that the government will fall on the federal budget, which is due to be released on March 22.

More Kelowna News