Nanaimo-Cowichan MP Jean Crowder said she was recently reminded there’s never a good time to leave.
And that rang true for the 10-year New Democratic Party Member of Parliament Thursday morning, as she announced she will not be putting her name forward in the next federal election.
Crowder told the media spending more time with her family is the main reason she’s decided to step down when her term ends, 18 months from now.
“I will not be retiring. I will be stepping away from the job as a Member of Parliament but I fully expect to continue to be active in my community, working hard for the things I believe in,” Crowder said during a press conference held at her constituency office on Ingram Street in Duncan. “It’s hard to walk away.”
Crowder has being chewing on the decision since the fall, but it really hit home during the Christmas holidays.
“I have three adorable grandchildren who live on the other side of the continent and with my travel schedule I simply don’t see them enough and they’re growing up before my eyes and it’s time for me to make them a priority.”
The decision didn’t stem from the federal decision last year to split her riding into the new Nanaimo-Ladysmith and Cowichan-Malahat-Langford ridings.
“It was a factor in that it was a good time for me to make that decision, but the riding being divided in half wasn’t the driving force in this,” she said. “It started in the fall, when people started asking where I was going to run. That’s never been a question before, I was always going to run.
“When people started asking me, I thought I need to make a conscious decision about this. And as I thought about it, and thought I’m actually going to be 63 in 2015 and I thought can I do another four years? I would be 67 by 2019.”
Crowder supporters say she will leave big shoes to fill.
“She was very concerned about things, sincerely, not for things because it was the right thing to say, but because she meant what she said,” long-time NDP volunteer Trudy Thorgeirson said.
Thorgeirson worked closely with Crowder even before she was first elected in 2004, and in many different organizations, not just in her position as MP.
“I started working with her even before she got onto North Cowichan (council),” Thorgeirson said. “We worked together when I was president of the Volunteer Cowichan board, and I was able to get her on the board. I think it was Toastmasters where we met in the first place.
“She was really just a very friendly person and very easy to work with and get along with. I never found her cross, just very pleasant.”
Crowder said she couldn’t be more proud of the work the NDP team has done and looks forward to the day there’s an NDP government in Ottawa.
“My goal is to make sure that both ends of the riding stay New Democrat and I’m happy I will be able to work with the successful candidate in the nomination race to make sure that happens,” she said.
“When I joined Parliament in 2004, there was 19 NDP members in Parliament and now we’re the official opposition,” she said proudly.
She is also proud of her work on the issue of derelict vessels.
“(And) I’m proud to be a sponsor of a bill to develop a national strategy on combating poverty. It hasn’t come up in debate at the house but I’m proud to be a sponsor of that bill.
“I also had my motion passed unanimously, in 2006 I think, on Jordan’s Principle, which talked about putting First Nations children first instead of having governments fight over who should pay and we’re starting to see some results on that and that’s an achievement that will be there long after I’m gone.”
But, after 10 years and numerous miles travelled, Crowder says it’s that time.
“I love my community and it has been a huge privilege to serve here. I want to thank people for their support, their caring and compassion,” she said.