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Bill Casey plans to retire next year

Bill Casey celebrates with his wife Rosemary after winning the riding of Cumberland-Colchester for the Liberals in the 2015 federal election. ANDREW VAUGHAN
Bill Casey celebrates with his wife Rosemary after winning the riding of Cumberland-Colchester for the Liberals in the 2015 federal election. ANDREW VAUGHAN - The Canadian Press

Longtime MP Bill Casey has announced he will be retiring in 2019.

Casey has represented the riding of Cumberland-Colchester and previous ridings that encompassed the two counties as a Progressive Conservative, a Conservative, an independent, and finally as a Liberal. He was first elected in 1988 and has been re-elected six times in the last 30 years, serving a cumulative two decades in office.

Now 73, Casey has decided it’s time to hang up his hat once and for all and has informed his staff and the prime minister of his decision, which he said he and his wife Rosemary came to together.

“We just decided this was the thing to do at this time,” he told The Chronicle Herald. “Being away from home so much I think 

is a lot of it, and at this age, my wife and I thought we should spend a little more time together.”

Casey said he intends to remain an active voice for his community, but as a volunteer troublemaker instead of a professional one.

“I’ve been thrown in, thrown out, recycled, changed parties, ran as an independent, got sick, came back. It’s been an interesting ride,” he said. “I couldn’t have asked for a more interesting career or experience.”

Casey is perhaps most well known around the country for voting against the Conservative’s 2007 budget claiming it violated the Atlantic Accord, a move that earned him a boot from the Tory caucus by then prime minister Stephen Harper.

“I decided a long time ago I wasn’t going to try and figure out how politics works, so I just try and do what I think is the right thing, and it was the right thing to vote against that budget if you were an MP from Nova Scotia, and I just did it,” Casey said. “I didn’t know what the consequences would be but that didn’t matter. There was no question of what to do.”

In 2006, Casey was diagnosed with cancer, and battled both malignant melanoma and prostate cancer, forcing him to retire from politics from 2009 until the 2015 election. He has since made a full recovery, and advocates for early testing.

“There were three members diagnosed with cancer and almost all at the same time. Jack Layton had prostate cancer, Chuck Cadman had malignant melanoma and I was diagnosed with both,” he said.

“I’m still here and I feel great, I’m in good health as far as I know and I just think of those other two who did not make it. I knew them both quite well and I think of them a lot. I don’t know why I’m here and they’re not.”

Looking back at his career, Casey said he’s proud of a lot of different things that he and his staff and colleagues have worked on and been part of. He said he’s proud that his advocacy on behalf of his constraints resulted in getting the historic Acadian village of Beaubassin designated a national historic site by the federal government in 2005.

While in opposition in 2001, he also managed to convince the Liberals to stop the sale of Ile Haute, a tiny, pristine island located eight kilometres from the shores of Cape Chignecto, after it was declared surplus by the federal fisheries department in the 1990s.

Now, Casey said he’s lobbying the Liberal government to designate it a National Wildlife Area before he retires.

Casey said he is anxious to get all that he can done in his remaining year in office and that he will continue to focus on demographic and economic issues in Cumberland- Colchester.

For all he’s been a part of in the past three decades, Casey said he’s most proud of being able to be there for and to help his constituents.

“If someone has a problem with the system we try to help them every time. Sometimes we can, sometimes we can’t, but we try,” he said. “For myself and all my staff, that’s where we get the most satisfaction.”

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