Liberal MP and former cabinet minister Marc Garneau is resigning after 15 years in politics in order to fulfil a promise to spend more time with his family.

He officially announced his retirement in the House of Commons on his final day Wednesday, saying it was an honour to serve the country, "but it's time to go."

He thanked colleagues across both sides of the aisle, along with journalists and parliamentary staff, while reminding MPs of the importance of representing Canadians.

"Every one of you comes here to make Canada a better place," Garneau said in his speech Wednesday. "When it's all said and done, there's more that unites us than divides us."

Before heading home to Montreal, Garneau told reporters "it's kind of crazy" to be leaving the House of Commons. He also previously served as federal transport minister for about five years before being named foreign affairs minister in 2021.

He represents the Montreal constituency of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount and was first elected to the House of Commons in 2008.

Prior to politics, Garneau was well known for being one of the first six Canadian astronauts. He became the first Canadian to fly to space in 1984.

He went on to lead the Canadian Space Agency from 2001 to 2005.

"Any end of any career is always an emotional time," Garneau said outside the House of Commons Wednesday evening.

'I climbed all my mountains': Liberal MP @MarcGarneau retires from politics. #CDNPoli #MarcGarneau #Retirement

"But 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. When I left the Navy, I went to become an astronaut, and when I left the Canadian Space Agency, I went to become a politician.

"I've climbed all my mountains and I'm very happy with that and I want to spend my time with my family."

Garneau said he sat down with his family last fall, and they expressed that they wanted him to retire while he was still healthy.

"I promised them I would leave after tabling the report on medical assistance in dying," he said.

The special joint committee on medical assistance in dying, which Garneau chaired, presented its final report to the House and the Senate on Feb. 15. Upon presentation of its report, the committee ceased to exist, and that opened the door for Garneau to leave political life behind.

"We will miss him as a colleague and a friend here in this House," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a speech on Wednesday.

"Even in his last act here in the House … he continues to push us, as he always pushed himself, to do our very best in our very best of ways to serve Canadians."

Following Garneau's speech, MPs from all parties stood in line to shake his hand.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 8, 2023.

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