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Liberal Pat Bell won't run in May 14 election

Liberal MLA Pat Bell, the Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour, has said health problems mean he will not run for re-election in the next provincial election.

In a statement posted Sunday on his website, Bell said:

Last fall I underwent a series of medical tests that were initiated to check for possible pneumonia. My very astute family doctor saw something that he wanted looked into further and as a result found a relatively rare type of aneurysm that I may have had for some time. I feel very fortunate that this was picked up because this type of aneurysm is rarely detected.

At this point I am seeing a cardiac specialist and we are monitoring the size of the aneurysm. If it grows I will require surgical intervention. If not, I may require just an ongoing monitoring program.

All of this has caused me to re-think my decision to seek another term as the MLA for Prince George-Mackenzie. This is a critical and compelling time for our province and it's equally critical that our team members are able to focus 100 per cent of their attention on the task at hand. With this diagnosis, I need to turn my mind to my personal health and this would take my attention away from my responsibilities as your MLA. For this reason I am announcing today that I have decided to withdraw my nomination as the BC Liberal candidate in the upcoming provincial election.

As I reflect on the past 12 years in provincial politics there are many individuals that I need to thank but today I will focus my attention on just two.

I cannot imagine what it would be like to be an elected official without the support of one's partner or spouse. Brenda has been an incredible support to me for our entire, almost 35 years of marriage but especially for the last 12 years. She is the one that made any success that I have had possible, encouraging me, making sure that I never lost sight of our core principles and values and being the anchor of our home life. Politics puts incredible stresses on one's home life, the media and public are unforgiving and while the elected partner can distance themselves from personal attacks I cannot imagine how difficult it would have been on Brenda.

The second individual I want to recognize today is my colleague Shirley Bond. We have had an incredible run together and it has been my honour to work with her. I have never met anyone who works as hard as she does or anyone as committed to performing at a level of excellence that I have seen her achieve. The Northern Medical Program, the Northern Development Initiatives Trust, highway improvements, Duchess Park, the Northern Sports Centre, and the Cancer Centre all happened through the partnership that we had. More than anything else though we established an open working relationship with all of our constituents, friends and foe unlike anything I have seen. We took the negativity out of politics in Prince George and our community is better for that.

I recently informed the Premier of my decision and she understands and accepts it. She has asked me to continue in my existing responsibilities through to the election and I have agreed to do that.

This has not been an easy decision; I think that a strong, economically focused government is more important now than ever. The globe is going through dramatic change, now is not the time for experimentation with unproven economic theories; it's time to stick to the fundamentals that have served us well for the past 12 years and I know that, through the leadership that Christy provides, B.C. will lead Canada in the coming decade.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is not the way I had planned to exit politics but my time has come. Others will step forward in the coming days to take on the task at hand and they will have my full support. Prince George has a huge heart and I feel very fortunate to have been able to represent our community and the community of Mackenzie for the past 12 years. Thank you for the honour of allowing me to do so.

Crawford Kilian is a contributing editor of The Tyee.

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