After 17 years as MP, Keith Martin quits
Political Coverage ~ MapleLine Magazine
Story and photos by Mary P. Brooke | November 9, 2010
SOOKE, BC. Dr. Keith Martin, MP -- the elected representative for Vancouver Island's Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca riding -- is throwing in the towel on politics. He made his announcement to a hastily gathered media scrum at his constituency office in Colwood today. (The event was announced after 11 am and held at 1 pm.)
"I need to be unencumbered from my encumbrances," said the Liberal MP who has served in federal politics since 1993, adding that "the environment in Parliament is infected with hyper-partisanship, which is also not satisfactory to many of my colleagues".
Martin feels he can get more done through his many national and international contacts in universities, the private sector and NGOs, explaining the speed of progress in Parliament with this: "The system works somewhere between full stop and glacial."
His parting wish for Sooke (which is a significant voter 'heartland' within his riding) is that the local economy begin to provide more jobs and support for business prosperity in the Sooke to Port Renfrew area.
Martin will serve as MP for his riding until the next federal Liberal leadership convention in October 2011, adding that he wants to allow time for the new Liberal candidate (whoever that might be) to "build a persona" in the community.
Martin said his "top achievement" has been serving the people who "walk through the door, sometimes in a desperate situation, to resolve issues of an urgent nature in their lives".
"I'm an individual who tries to drive ideas forward. And I'm a doctor. I went into politics to have a larger stethoscope, to provide a bigger solution," he said to about 15 media plus staff. BC MLA John Horgan (NDP) also dashed over from his nearby office for the announcement.
"I come to work happy every day," he said, when asked by a reporter what his greatest disappointment has been, implying that he has few if none.
Dr. Martin was explicit about expressing how he feels that the political process has deteriorated in Canada in the past few decades. It's a "glacial pace at which things work (in Parliament/government)", saying that the slow rather ineffectual process created for him "a deep and profound frustration".
"I'm about trying to build and create solutions, building constructive and positive results," he said at the afternoon media conference. "I hope to work progressively with universities, the private sector and NGOs and bring governments up behind that." He said that politics has been in a "continual downward spiral for decades" adding that "partisanship and bickering does not serve constituents well at all".
As for conjecture about his future plans in politics, if any, Keith Martin responded: "I am not seeking re-election in the next federal election. It's important for citizens and communities to have new blood. I am about creating partnerships, I want to be able to create," he said, being very clear that he feels the current political system in Canada is not only divisive and "hyper-partisan" but that Canada is falling behind many other developed countries in social and political achievement due to a system that is adversarial.
When asked if he still has his medical licence: "I will always be a doctor. But I would go back to school for a year if I were to practice medicine again," Dr. Martin replied.
To the Sooke constituency, Dr. Martin says: "Transportation is a big issue. The E&N railway is absolutely critical for southern Vancouver Island. Environmental protection is important and providing places for people to live. Sooke has a wonderful opportunity for ecotourism which can support jobs and businesses all the way from Sooke to Port Renfrew. Sooke should try to avoid suffering the type of urban sprawl that has affected other communities. Sooke has amazing nature and wildlife. I see the possibility for businesses all the way along the Sooke highway to Port Renfrew."
On the transportation side of things, Martin insists that Victoria needs an overpass at Hwy 1 and McKenzie.
At the media event, John Horgan, MLA for Juan de Fuca said that Canadians "are losing a very capable member of parliament, and that's not easy to find". He commended Martin for "taking a pass on the top job for BC" (Martin has stated he is not planning to run for leader of the BC Liberals). "I've always been comfortable with Keith as my MP," said Horgan to a group of reporters. "Parliament and the Legislature of BC need to rescue people of goodwill to do the tough construction job" of revamping the political process in Canada and the provinces. "We need to do a reno," says Horgan, adding the at the public seem to be increasingly comfortable with choosing individuals as their political representatives rather than aligning strictly with one party or another. "I wish Keith well. He will be very difficult to replace."
An official news release included this quote from Dr. Martin: "When I entered politics 17 years ago, I did so because I wanted to make a difference in our community, our country and the world. This work is not complete and never will be. However, there is a time to go and in my heart I think this is it. Personally, I hope to be able to find new opportunities to use the substantial networks I have built up over time in our universities, the private sector and NGOs to implement innovative solutions to address the domestic and international challenges we face."
Martin thanked his constituency staff in Victoria and his staff in Ottawa for their tireless service over the years. He expressed gratitude for being a member of the Liberal Party of Canada and that he supports the party and Mr. Ignatieff to form government after the next federal election.
~ Story filed by MapleLine Magazine, Copyright 2010. MM
"Keith Martin's fine record" (editorial from Times Colonist, Nov.10/10)
Keith Martin's official website (including health reform do's and don'ts)
This article is Copyright 2010 Brookeline Publishing House Inc. All rights reserved.
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