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Former Liberal Cabinet Minister Marc Garneau Reflects on Long Political Career

Liberal MP and former federal cabinet minister Marc Garneau announced on March 8 that he would be resigning his seat in the House of Commons and later reflected on his 14 years in politics while speaking to fellow MPs and reporters.

Garneau told reporters on Parliament Hill after question period in the House that it was “the end of his political career,” which he said brings with it a number of emotions.

“It’s also in some ways the end of my professional career writ large because I’m not looking at going to another job at the moment,” he said.

Garneau, who represents the Montreal constituency of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount and was first elected to the House in 2008, served in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s cabinet from 2015 to 2021.

He was the federal transport minister for about five years before serving as the foreign affairs minister for less than a year in 2021.

Before starting his political career, Garneau was one of the first six Canadian astronauts and became the first Canadian to ever fly to space in 1984.

He was also head of the Canadian Space Agency from 2001 to 2005.

“I’ve climbed all my mountains and I’m very happy with that, and I want to spend my time with my family,” Garneau told reporters.

Garneau also gave his final speech in the House following question period on March 8, during which he thanked both his Liberal party and opposition colleagues, and apologized to his constituents for resigning his seat before the end of his mandate.

Garneau recently served as joint chair on the Special Joint Parliamentary Committee on Medical Assistance in Dying and told the House he had previously promised his family he’d leave politics after the committee tabled its final report in February.

Garneau ended his speech by issuing a “challenge” to all MPs in the House.

“Be dignified,” he said, adding that House members should positively channel heated emotions and criticize opponents “with respect.”

“My challenge to members is to find your better angels and put away the anger and false indignation. Criticize by all means, but do it with respect and maybe even wit. Make Canadians proud of this House and the people in it,” he said.

A number of current ministers commented on Garneau’s resignation while speaking to reporters on March 8.

Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly, who succeeded Garneau in the position in 2021, said he was “one of the first to inspire us by going to space” and praised his integrity.

“He stands for his convictions,” said Joly.

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