Marjory LeBreton steps down as Government Senate Leader

Matthew Coutts
Départ des conservatrices LeBreton et Ablonczy
La leader du gouvernement au Sénat, Marjory LeBreton, et la ministre d'État des Affaires étrangères, Diane Ablonczy, annoncent leur départ, ce qui entraîne des changements au Cabinet fédéral

Things just got significantly worse for Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party, with his key Senate ally announcing she will step down from her post as Government Senate Leader and another Member of Parliament confirming she would not seek re-election.

Sen. Marjory LeBreton announced on Thursday that she would no longer be the government leader in the Senate, but added in a statement she would remain on as a Conservative senator for Ontario. The 73-year-old LeBreton has two more years before he reaches the age of mandatory retirement.

LeBreton, first named to the Senate in 1993, has been the Tory's government leader in the Senate since Stephen Harper was first elected prime minister in 2006.

In her statement, she said she would remain an active member of the Senate and "step up my efforts in support of meaningful Senate reform and also actively back the new strengthened rules we introduced regarding Senate expenses."

LeBreton's decision to step out of the position comes at the heels of a very tough time for Canada's Upper Chamber, which has seen several members embroiled in spending scandals. The affair has also led Senators Mike Duffy, Patrick Brazeau and Pamela Wallin to either be removed or step out of the Conservative caucus.

[ Political Points: Ottawa braces for major cabinet shuffle ]

Postmedia News reports that LeBreton's exit will leave one more position for Harper to fill during his mid-term cabinet shuffle, which was already expected to be a busy affair.

The announcement comes as the Conservative ranks suffer further tumult in the House of Commons.

Calgary MP Diane Ablonczy, minister of state for foreign affairs, announced on Thursday that she would not run in the next election. In a statement, Ablonczy said the party was in a “state of transition,” and suggested a riding redistribution coming in 2015 played a part in her decision not to run again.

Still, Ablonczy joins an exodus of Tory stalwarts that are heading toward the exit door by 2015.

Earlier this week, Ted Menzies, an Alberta MP who acts as junior finance minister, announced his decision not to seek re-election. Manitoba MP Vic Toews is also reportedly set to retire. He currently sits as the Minister of Public Safety. There have also been suggestions that Defence Minister Peter MacKay could be considering a move to the private sector.

The announcements all come ahead of what is expected to be a major shakeup to Harper's cabinet, with stalwarts such as Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and MacKay candidates to lose their current positions.