After 15 years as a member of provincial parliament, Deb Matthews announced on Friday afternoon that she will not be seeking re-election in the 2018 provincial election.
Matthews is currently the deputy premier and advanced education minister and said in a statement that she will remain in politics, serving as the Liberals’ campaign co-chair.
Matthews was born in London in 1953, the third of nine children. Her father, Donald Matthews, was the former president of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada.
She attended A. B. Lucas Secondary School and got her PhD in social demography at the University of Western Ontario.
She’s been involved with the Liberals since 1975 but was first elected as an MPP in 2003.
Over the years she’s served numerous positions including Minister of Children and Youth Services, Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues, the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, and the Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development.
Her tenure was not without controversy, however, as opposition parties demanded her resignation over the Ornge air ambulance scandal of 2014 after a legislative committee found the Liberal government ignored repeated red flags about financial irregularities and operational problems at Ornge for years.
Ward 13 councillor Tanya Park, who last week threw her hat in the ring for the NDP nomination in Matthews’ riding, said the deputy premier’s retirement will change the dynamic of the race.
“I don’t have a crystal ball. That certainly will be up to the good folks in London North Centre about what they think about me as a candidate–even for the nomination right now, I don’t want to get ahead of myself,” she said. “I think it will set a different tone for the race going forward, sure.”
The riding’s Progressive Conservative candidate, former federal Conservative MP Susan Truppe, said the announcement doesn’t come as a surprise.
“We’ve heard the rumour for a while, so it’s nice that it’s no longer speculation and that she’s made the decision not to run,” Truppe said. “Personally, I wish her well in her retirement. It’s a difficult decision, for females especially, to get into politics. And it’s a big decision to get out of them as well.”
Also on Thursday, Treasury Board President Liz Sandals announced she will retire. The announcements follow several other Liberal party members confirming they will not be running in 2018. Former environment minister Glen Murray is now in the private sector, Speaker Dave Levac and Monte Kwinter have also announced they won’t seek re-election.