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Reynolds to step down, focus on health

The Conservative stalwart who sent the Liberal candidate back to "busing tables" after last year’s federal election has decided to retire after more than 25 years in politics.

John Reynolds, an experienced and important member of the Conservative Party and Whistler’s representative in Ottawa, said he was retiring because he is turning 63.

The Conservative House Leader has represented the West Vancouver Sunshine Coast area in the provincial legislature and as a federal MP. But he says he now needs to look after his health. After a bad car accident two years ago he wants to focus more on rehabilitation.

Reynolds’s political career began as a Conservative MP when he was elected to represent Burnaby-Richmond in 1972. A true conservative, he quit the Progressive Conservative party shortly after Joe Clark became leader in 1978. He was a Social Credit MLA from 1983 to 1991, serving as Speaker of the legislature and environment minister. He returned to federal politics in 1997.

Despite the announcement this week Reynolds said he would continue to represent this riding until the next election and has pledged to run the Conservative’s national campaign.

"It would be a wonderful way to go out bringing in a new prime minister but I’m sure if I can do that for (Conservative Leader Stephen) Harper he would want me to come back and do it again so I might not be retiring," said Reynolds.

Reynolds said he timed the announcement so he could give Conservatives time to find a suitable candidate to replace him in this riding.

The Conservative House leader scrapped into office for a third term last June after edging Liberal candidate Blair Wilson.

One of the more controversial issues during the last election for Reynolds was the same-sex marriage debate, and the Conservatives under Harper seem determined to keep the issue alive. But Reynolds said he expects the same-sex marriage debate to be solved by the next election while the Olympics and the debate about infrastructure should heat up.

"I’m still working on the Garibaldi (ski resort) situation as well because I think that will be good for my riding," he said.

"But we’re still waiting for the money for infrastructure that the Prime Minister promised in the last election and hopefully we’re going to see that in the next budget."

Reynolds said he informed the party of his decision to step down before Christmas, after holding a long consultation with his family.

"This is obviously a bittersweet moment because John has made it clear to me that he is not going to run again," said Harper. "He’s been an enormous asset to me and to the party, and we’re all going to miss him."

Jay Hill, who represents the B.C. riding of Prince George-Peace River in the House of Commons, will replace Reynolds as House leader, Harper said.