Liberal MP Nicola Di Iorio officially resigned his seat in the House of Commons ending months of back and forth over his political future.
The MP for Saint-Léonard-Saint-Michel announced his resignation Tuesday after being absent from Ottawa since Parliament resumed sitting Sept. 17, 2018. He initially said he would step down Jan. 22, but failed to meet the self-imposed deadline.
House of Commons Speaker Geoff Regan confirmed before question period on Tuesday that Di Iorio had informed him of the decision earlier in the day.
“It is my duty to inform the House of the following vacancy Mr. Nicola Di Iorio, member for the Saint-Léonard-Saint-Michel has resigned earlier today,” Ragan said. “I have asked the chief electoral officer to issue the paperwork regarding this.”
Global News reached out to the Prime Minister’s Office for comment but were referred back to the House speaker’s comments. Elections Canada told Global News they have not yet received his official resignation.
Questions about the missing-in-action MP have swirled in Ottawa since he originally announced his intention to leave politics in April 2018, citing family reasons. In November, he posted a lengthy statement on his Facebook page explaining that his resignation would take effect in January.
Di Iorio then appeared in the House of Commons in December to explain why he hadn’t been in Ottawa. He said he’d been busy with other important work, which included the government’s cannabis legislation.
In a wide-ranging speech, which touched on the historical mistreatment of Italian-Canadians in the Second World War, Di Iorio said he believed there had not been enough awareness raised about the dangers of legalizing the drug.
“During that time, I have worked on behalf of my constituents and my community, over the past few months I have undertaken work on issues that I truly care about,” Di Iorio said in the House. “Many of those issues are taking up all my time right now.”
He said the timing of his resignation is challenging because he is involved in promoting awareness about impaired driving. Di Iorio said he has also been working in his capacity as a lawyer, arguing it is valuable for a politician because it grounds a person in the real world.
The NDP raised a question of privilege in November, charging that Di Iorio’s absence meant his constituents haven’t been properly represented. B.C. MP Nathan Cullen said that if Di Iorio had been away for inadequate reasons, he should be expelled from the Commons.
Di Iorio’s resignation leaves Trudeau with another vacancy in his Montreal caucus ahead of the federal election set for Oct. 21.
*With files from The Canadian Press