Health and Social Services Minister Glen Abernethy will not seek re-election after all, the three-term MLA announced in a social media post Sunday.
“I pass the baton knowing NWT residents will make the wise choices that put good women and men in the NWT’s Legislative Assembly, year after year, election after election,” he wrote.
Abernethy declined to comment when approached in the legislative assembly Monday, as the last session of the 18th Legislative Assembly commenced before voters head to the polls Oct. 1.
He said he would be open to an interview about his departure “after the writ drops.”
First elected in 2007, Abernethy served as a regular MLA for Great Slave until becoming justice minister in 2011. Two years later, he assumed responsibilities as the health and social services minister — a position he continues to hold despite a failed 2015 premiership bid and surviving a non-confidence vote in 2018, following a scathing auditor general report on child and family services.
As early as one week ago, Abernethy’s Yellowknife home has also been posted for sale, prompting questions over the minister’s plans for the future.
“Excited by the possibilities”
In his statement, he thanked his staff and said he was proud of his accomplishments.
“However, for me, it’s time for a change. They say that life begins at 50. Well, I’m 48, and I’m ready for new challenges and excited about pursuing new opportunities. I don’t know what these are yet but I’m excited by the possibilities,” he wrote.
In a comment, Katrina Nokleby, the only publicly announced contender for his Great Slave seat, this election, thanked Abernethy for his years of public service.
“I wish you well in your future endeavours. Thank you for being such a good role model.” she wrote.
Yellowknife North MLA Cory Vanthuyne also thanked Abernethy for his 12 years in Assembly.
“You’re a very special person Glen and your contributions to this great territory have been significant and have made it even greater. Your legacy as a public representative will endure for many years to come,” he wrote.
Abernethy, who had previously stated his intention run in this October’s election, said he and his family made the decision to allow him to pursue new opportunities and spend more time as a parent, which is his “greatest priority.”
In his statement, Abernethy said that “what we do, as politicians, matters. That this beautiful Assembly matters. That politics matter. That government matters. Working on behalf of you and all residents of the NWT is a privilege, and the work I and my colleagues do matter.”
“Thank you for your support and goodbye,” the minister wrote. “Be well my friends.”