After 40 years of service, Kingston Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) John Gerretsen has announced his forthcoming retirement.
Gerretsen, 71, said on Friday that he will continue in his role until the next provincial election, when a new MPP will be elected for the area. He announced his plans in a speech, written in letter-form to Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, in company of family and supporters.
A former Kingston city councillor – referred to as an alderman – from 1972 to 1980, he went on to serve as mayor of Kingston between 1980-88, a position his son Mark currently occupies.
He has held his current seat as Liberal MPP since 1995, being re-elected in 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011.
Gerretsen said he made retirement plans following the last election in 2011.
“I think it’s time for a younger generation,” he said. “[It’s time] to maybe sit back and smell the roses, play a little bit of golf … or maybe get involved in some other community activities.”
He said Wynne’s leadership as Premier made the decision difficult to make.
“I’ve got such a great regard for her and the kind of tone that she set around Queen’s Park … the leadership skills that she shows in every which way sometimes under tough circumstances,” he said.
Gerretsen also serves as Attorney General for the Government of Ontario and sits on its treasury management board and its Planning and Priorities Committee.
He added his multiple re-elections have been a humbling experience, although he declined to specify any particular thing he was proud of accomplishing.
“People put their trust, confidence and faith in you when they don’t necessarily agree with you on each and every issue,” Gerretsen said. “You put a hundred people together and there are probably a hundred different opinions on a particular issue.”
He said, however, that there are issues that will still need to be dealt with come the next election.
“When you put it all together there is no other place like Kingston and we should be doing more to promote it and to build up good relationships with the students, so that when they have street parties they are nice quiet affairs which the whole community can take part [in],” he said.
“We can [also] always do more for those people who aren’t perhaps as fortunate as you and I are in many ways.”
He said he hopes the next candidate for the area will be able to fully represent diverging opinions in the community.
“You need somebody that understands the community … that is not just a politician but someone that can build bridges with people out there,” he said.
“The person that is going to be successful is the person that is able to go beyond the base of their individual party and whatever it stands for, and bring bridges with people around the community.”
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