Local MPP Witmer steps down

After almost 22 years at Queen’s Park, Elizabeth Witmer has decided to call it quits.

Witmer, the Progressive Conservative MPP for the Kitchener-Waterloo riding, which encompasses both Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo, announced Friday afternoon that she would be giving up her seat in the legislature to take over as chair of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, a role Premier Dalton McGuinty nominated her for.

Witmer has become a fixture of provincial politics in the region, being first elected as MPP for Waterloo North in 1990 — the riding was renamed Kitchener-Waterloo in 1999. She then won every subsequent election, most recently resuming office in October of 2011, when McGuinty’s Liberals won a minority government.

During her career, Witmer served terms as minister of labour, environment, education and health, as well as deputy premier under Ernie Eves from 2002-03.

Kitchener-Waterloo will hold a byelection within the next six months to fill Witmer’s vacated seat. Before the PC Witmer’s resignation, the governing Liberals were one seat short of 53 and a de facto majority (speaker Dave Levac is a Liberal).

Should the Liberals claim Kitchener-Waterloo in the byelection it would bring the governing party and their opposition to 53 seats apiece — the PCs currently occupy 37 seats, the NDP 17.

The Cord will continue to follow this story.

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