COQUITLAM — After two decades in politics and two terms as opposition in Victoria, Coquitlam-Maillardville NDP MLA Diane Thorne is retiring.
The long-time politician announced Monday she won’t be running in the next provincial election in 2013.
Thorne said she is leaving politics for a number of reasons, but the biggest is she felt it was the right time.
“I think 17 years is enough for anybody,” she told The NOW in her typical candid and whimsical fashion
“I didn’t mean to make politics a career.”
Thorne, who currently serves as deputy education critic, said she wanted to go out like the television show Seinfeld, and didn’t want to wait until she had passed her “best before date.”
But the MLA admits the decision to retire, especially with her party leading in the polls, was one of the most difficult in her life.
She had been considering her future for several months, but only made a final decision last week.
Thorne suggested the highlight of her career would have been the opportunity to work with, and for, various groups and people in the community.
“That’s probably what I’m going to miss more than anything,” she said, adding she also cherished the opportunity to speak to kids in schools.
Specifically, as an MLA, one of Thorne’s fondest memories came after the government introduced licensing and regulations for home inspectors based on her own private member’s bill.
Not only is it rare for a private member’s bill to see the light of day, but also Thorne said the legislation was “the right thing to do.”
When her term is done, Thorne said she plans to take time off, travel and do some of the things she hasn’t been able to in the last 20 years.
“I could be everyone’s worst nightmare now,” she joked.
As for a possible successor as a candidate for the NDP next election, Thorne said she hoped that person would share her values and have the kind of commitment and energy she’s shown through the years.
She also joked the candidate should also be prepared to take orders from her in the future.
Reaction from Thorne’s announcement was swift and congratulatory.
NDP Leader Adrian Dix thanked Thorne for her years of public service.
“A passionate advocate for social services and for improving people's lives in tangible ways, Diane has been effective in making the case that these investments enrich the life and health of the entire community,” he said in a statement.
"Her colleagues at the caucus table, like her constituents, will also miss her warmth and good humour.”
New Westminster MP Fin Donnelly tweeted Monday the following: I congratulate my colleague for her years of service @DianeThorneMLA announces retirement.
Thorne servied three terms on Coquitlam city council before being elected as an MLA in 2005.