Calgary Heritage MP Bob Benzen to bow out of politics at end of 2022

Newly-elected Conservative MP Bob Benzen rises to ask a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Wednesday May 3, 2017 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

The man who succeeded Stephen Harper to represent southwest Calgary in Parliament and who led the charge for former Conservative leader Erin O’Toole’s leadership review is retiring at the end of 2022.

Calgary Heritage MP Bob Benzen made the announcement late Thursday, calling his service of the riding “an honour and a privilege.”

“As a Member of Parliament, I have always voted with the best interests of Calgary and Alberta in mind, while staying true to my constituents and my conscience,” Benzen said.

A small business owner and then-member of the Calgary Heritage Conservative Association, Benzen handily won the April 2017 byelection after Harper resigned in August 2016.

Benzen was re-elected in 2019 and 2021.

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On Jan. 25, Benzen tweeted his support for the so-called freedom convoy.

“I stand with the #freedomconvoy protesting the coercive, intrusive, and authoritarian dictates of this Trudeau government,” Benzen wrote.

Less than a week later, Benzen called for a caucus review of Erin O’Toole’s leadership.

“I feel that the Conservative caucus has given Mr. O’Toole more than enough chances for a course correction to resolve the concerns of many of the grassroots members of our party,” he wrote on Jan. 31.

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Four months earlier, on Oct. 5, 2021, O’Toole announced his intention to stay on as Conservative leader following that September’s election.

The next day, Benzen penned an open letter to all Conservative MPs following O’Toole’s statement in response to the convoy’s occupation of Ottawa.

In that Jan. 31 televised statement, O’Toole “unequivocally” condemned the hate symbols on display, desecration of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and “anyone who seeks to exploit people’s understandable fear to stoke extremism.”

O’Toole also endorsed the use of vaccines, saying there were two paths ahead: working together or using vaccines as a wedge issue.

Benzen said O’Toole’s statement “confirmed my worst fears” in the Feb. 1 statement.

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Benzen suggested the former Conservative leader was “doubling down – launching attacks and threatening ‘consequences’ against any MP who dares dissent.”

Following a leadership race, Pierre Poilievre was chosen to take the party’s helm on Sep. 10.

“Pierre Poilievre will be our next prime minister and we can count on him to safeguard our freedoms and restore prosperity,” Benzen claimed Thursday.

The outgoing Calgary Heritage MP said he expected an orderly succession in the riding.

“It was never my intention to become a career politician. As my time in public service comes to an end, I look forward to returning to private business and family life.”

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