Sudbury MPP Rick Bartolucci has announced he is stepping down from his position as minister of northern development and mines and will not seek re-election during the next provincial election.
The long-time politician made the announcement Feb. 7 during a private function held at Sudbury’s Caruso Club, where his family and supporters were in attendance.
“I am withdrawing my name for a possible cabinet position and, therefore, effective next Monday (Feb. 11), when the new, dynamic cabinet is sworn in, I will step down as minister for northern development and mines, but will continue as MPP for Sudbury until the next election is called,” he said.
Premier-designate Kathleen Wynne and her cabinet will be sworn in on Feb. 11, after which they will hold their first meeting.
There has been unconfirmed speculation that Sault Ste. Marie MPP David Orazietti will pick up the northern development and mines portfolio. Bartolucci did not confirm that rumour but said that, following his announcement, he was heading to a Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corp. meeting in the Sault, which was scheduled to begin at 4 p.m.
Bartolucci said his decision to leave his post was made following a discussion with family at Christmas. Citing his advancing age and a desire to spend more time with his family, the 69-year-old said that after 28 years in politics, it was time to retire.
“I always said if couldn’t give 100 per cent to the people who voted for me, it was time to move on,” Bartolucci said. “I found it increasingly more difficult to give 100 per cent and I never want to shortchange the trust that was placed in me.”
Nipissing MPP Vic Fedeli issued a statement shortly after the announcement, congratulating Bartolucci on his retirement.
"I want to congratulate Minister Bartolucci on his retirement from cabinet,” Fedeli said. “I look forward to meeting with the new minister of northern development and mines at the earliest opportunity to discuss the future of Ontario Northland and other issues vital to Nipissing and Northern Ontario."
Standing before a collage of photos of Bartolucci at various events throughout his career, under the heading ‘The Road Ahead,’ Bartolucci outlined some of Sudbury’s achievements over the last several years.
Among them were the four-laning of Highway 69, the construction of the new hospital, the creation of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine and the Laurentian School of Architecture, and the implementation of research and educational facilities such as the Centre for Excellence in Mining Innovation and the Vale Living with Lakes Centre.
In total, Bartolucci has helped bring $8 billion in provincial funding into Sudbury since 2003.
“We had our work cut out for us,” Bartolucci said. “The community worked together to advance its priorities and today we see the unprecedented results all around us. We went from being a have-not to a have community.”
Bartolucci, who entered politics in 1979 and became Sudbury’s MPP in 1995, conceded his career has meant time away from his family, being demeaned in the public sphere and facing criticism for his decisions.
But he said he had “no regrets—I stand by every decision I’ve made,” and would continue to do so until he exits politics at the next election.
Bartolucci said he’s “not a legacy person,” but is proud of working with the community to accomplish the projects his constituents wanted to see achieved.
“The only legacy piece I want is that we’ve worked as hard as we possibly could for the people we represent and we were fair to them,” he said, “and I look forward to continuing to work with them.”