Long-time B.C. Liberal MLA and former cabinet minister Rich Coleman has announced he will not seek re-election.
Coleman, who has served six terms as the representative for Fort Langley-Aldergrove and the current Langley East riding, announced on Saturday that he will not be seeking a seventh. He will stay in office until the next election, which is slated for 2021.
He wrote on Facebook that he made the announcement to mark the 24th anniversary of his first nomination on Feb. 29, 1996. He was elected to the B.C. legislature that May.
Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson issued a statement thanking Coleman for being an “articulate and consistent voice” for the party by supporting other campaigns and stepping in as interim opposition leader after Christy Clark’s resignation in 2017.
“Nearly a quarter-century in public life requires significant personal sacrifices,” Wilkinson said while extending gratitude to Coleman’s family.
Coleman held a number of cabinet positions while the Liberals were in power, including minister of public safety and solicitor general, minister of housing and social development, minister of energy and mines, minister of housing and social development and minister of forests and range.
His tenure as solicitor general has come under scrutiny, with critics saying he and the rest of the Liberals did not do enough to crack down on money laundering in casinos and real estate in the province.
The then-minister’s decision to disband a RCMP anti-illegal gaming unit has particularly been criticized, although Coleman has argued the unit was ineffective.
A Global News investigation discovered a report the unit released three months before it was shut down that detailed how organized crime figures had allegedly infiltrated and corrupted B.C. government casinos for their own means.
The report also contained jarring allegations of victimization, including that women with gambling debts in Asia were being trafficked to B.C. and forced into sex work, and that children in B.C. had been thrown in the trunk of a car and warned at gunpoint that their father owed $300,000.
The report argued the RCMP anti-illegal gaming unit should target the drug cartels using B.C. Lottery Corp. casinos in combination with illegal casinos, to launder money.
Instead, the unit was disbanded altogether.
The NDP government says Coleman and other high-ranking members of the previous Liberal government, including Clark and former finance minister and current MLA Mike de Jong, should be called to testify in the public inquiry into money laundering that heard opening statements this past week.
Coleman has said he would be willing to testify if called.
—With files from Sam Cooper and Richard Zussman