MLA Pimm will not seek re-election

North Peace MLA Pat Pimm has announced he will not seek re-election in 2017.

Pimm made the emotional announcement Thursday morning at his constituency office, saying he wants to spend more time with his family and start his retirement. Pimm said he made a commitment to his family that he would only run for two terms and that he's honouring that commitment.

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"This is a time-intensive job. In fact, one could argue that there isn’t any true time off, and very little time for your spouse and family," Pimm said, choking back tears, with one of his daughters, Kristi, by his side.

"It is extremely hard to have work-life balance in this job, and quite honestly it is your family that ends up suffering more than anything."

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RELATED: Full text of Pimm's announcement

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Pimm was first elected in 2009. He said he made his announcement early to give the B.C. Liberal party time to find his replacement for the 2017 election, a process he expects will start soon.

"I realize this is a little early to announce that I won't be running in the next election, but the way I see it, if I announce now, it will give our local riding association, our B.C. Liberal party, and myself, a lengthy opportunity to find a great candidate to replace me in the next election," he said.

"That process will probably start very soon after today, and there will be a new candidate in place for me to work with and help acquaint with the many remaining issues that will require a lot of hard work in future terms."

When asked if he knew of potential candidates interested in stepping forward, Pimm acknowledged that some had expressed an interest, but would not give any names.

“There’s folks that have indicated that they could be interested when I do step down, and I’ve officially done that as of now, so we’ll wait and see,” he said. 

Evan Saugstad, president of the Peace River North Liberal Riding Association, said the association was not in a position to say if anybody has stepped forward to replace Pimm. 

"That will occur over the next while and, until we do that, I will let any prospective candidates to self identify," he wrote in an email to the Alaska Highway News.

Fort St. John Mayor Lori Ackerman indicated Thursday she will be put her name forward for nomination.

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RELATED: Ackerman to seek Pimm's seat in Victoria

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Pimm cited numerous accomplishments during his tenure, including helping to get construction of the Fort Nelson Regional Recreation Complex, helping renew the Fair Share natural gas deal for municipalities, helping to establish the new Salvation Army Centre of Hope in Fort St. John, securing funding for upgrades to Hudson's Hope wastewater treatment facility, and the completion of the new Fort St. John hospital, among others.

Pimm told reporters that he’s “always wanted to be part of making my community a better place, and I’ve done that.

“I was 12 years on city council, I’ll be eight years on provincial council, and you know, I think I’ve done my time, and it’s time for somebody else to step up and carry the ball from this point forward.”

Pimm was re-elected for a second term in the legislature in 2013. He announced in January 2014 that he had been diagnosed with colon cancer. In October, he told reporters the cancer was in remission following surgery and multiple rounds of chemotherapy. 

Pimm said Thursday he remains in remission, and that he's been given a "clean bill of health each quarter ever since my treatment ended." He added he is also fighting diabetes.

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RELATED: Pimm's cancer in remission

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Pimm was appointed provincial agriculture minister in June 2013, serving in the post until April 2014. He faced conflict of interest allegations in 2014 in his dealings with the Agricultural Land Commission for his role in trying to help a local developer get a rodeo grounds built just outside of Fort St. John. He was later exonerated by the province's conflict of interest commissioner.

He also faced criticism that year for emails between him and other B.C. Liberal caucus members who were putting pressure on ALC chair Richard Bullock. In the emails, Pimm commiserated with Bill Bennett, who was appointed Minister Responsible for Core Review, that the ALC was stalling on approving non-farm-related changes to agricultural land in B.C., specifically in their two ridings.

"Every time I try to contact Mr. Bullock, I am told that he is an arms length body and for me to get the hell out of his hair. Who the hell is running the province anyways," wrote Pimm.

Pimm's email went on to complain that rather than taking the chance to gain support, "instead we will ignore it and go out and find some way to give the Indians more money which doesn't get me one vote! I am getting very tired of this kind of nonsense." 

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RELATED: Pimm exonerated by conflict of interest commissioner

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In June 2011, Pimm briefly resigned from the Liberal caucus after a domestic dispute with his wife landed him a night in jail. Premier Christy Clark later welcomed him back into the fold.

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RELATED: Pimm resigns from Liberal caucus

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In a statement, Clark thanked Pimm for his service, noting his roles as agriculture minister and parliamentary secretary for natural gas.

"I will be sorry to see him go," Clark said.

"No matter other roles he took on, Pat never stopped being a vocal champion for his constituency, the North, and the issues he felt passionate about."

Pimm received praise from across the aisle. NDP MLA Shane Simpson said Pimm has “worked hard and we certainly wish him well.” Simpson was also diagnosed with colon cancer, which was treated with surgery.

“We both came and through it and seemed to recover from it really well,” he said.

Even though they came from opposing political parties, Simpson said Pimm expressed respect. “I always felt that members that were pretty straight shooters and kind of keep their convinctions, and work hard to represent their constituents. I have a lot of respect (for them), and I think Pat did that.”

Pimm's South Peace colleague, MLA Mike Bernier, also weighed in on the announcement:

"He's done some amazing things over his tenure, an an MLA, as a councillor, throughout all of his political life in the north," Bernier said.

"I can tell you that it was great working with him when I was the mayor in Dawson Creek and even more satisfying when I was an MLA working side-by-side with him. I consider not only a very close colleague, but a friend. 

"He's been a very passionate, outspoken individual representing his area well. At the end of the day, representing his riding was always number one," Bernier said.

editor@ahnfsj.ca

peacereporter@ahnfsj.ca

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