By The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — Former Manitoba cabinet minister Ralph Eichler says he is preparing to leave politics.
Eichler, who is 72, says he will serve out his term until the next provincial election, which is scheduled for Oct. 3 of next year.
He says he wants to spend more time with family, and is making the announcement now so the Progressive Conservatives have time to find a new candidate in the Lakeside constituency northwest of Winnipeg.
Eichler, who served as agriculture and economic development minister before being shuffled out of cabinet this year, is the third high-profile Tory to announce a departure in recent months.
Scott Fielding resigned in June after serving as finance and natural resources minister.
Eileen Clarke, who has served as minister of Indigenous and municipal relations, announced this summer she will not seek re-election.
The departures come as the governing Tories lag behind the Opposition New Democrats in opinion polls.
Eichler said Tuesday he looks forward to spending time with his wife, children and grandchildren.
“I had a bit of a health scare last year and I couldn’t be in better shape now,” Eichler said.
“I listened to the doctors and I’ve lost 40-some pounds. I feel fantastic so let’s take advantage of it and move on to some things on my bucket list.”
Eichler has been in the legislature since 2003. He served as agriculture minister for three years after the Tories won the 2016 election.