HALIFAX — After suffering a heart attack in December, Nova Scotia's justice minister says it's time for her to strike a better balance than the rigours of politics can offer.
Diana Whalen announced Friday that she won't be running for the Liberals in the next provincial election.
Whalen made her decision after only recently returning to her job following a leave of absence.
She said she feels fine, but believes a change is in order.
"I did have a heart attack in December and I went through that recovery phase, said Whalen. "Certainly the best thing is to look at wellness and to look at a balance in my life — I think that's really important so that it is behind me."
Whalen, who is also the province's first female deputy premier, has served in the legislature since 2003 as the member for the Halifax riding of Clayton Park West. She also served as finance minister, but was shifted to the justice portfolio following the government's controversial axing of the province's film tax credit in 2015.
Whalen, who is in her early 60s, told reporters that politics is an "all-consuming job" and there comes a point when it's time to question whether the commitment level remains.
"It is a very big part of your life," Whalen said. "I think it's important for me to look at whether or not that is what I see in my future."
Whalen said she will stay on until an election is called and wasn't sure yet what the next chapter of her life would bring.
Reflecting on her time in provincial politics, Whalen said she was most proud of her persistence in establishing a statutory holiday in February. For eight consecutive years Whalen introduced a private members bill that eventually became law after the Liberals were elected to government in 2013.
"We've just celebrated the third year of that and as you know I asked three previous premiers," she said.
She also pointed to the expansion of the restorative justice program to include adults as another among a series of personal highlights.
Premier Stephen McNeil, who beat Whalen out for the Liberal leadership in 2007, said he was losing a colleague who had also become a friend. He said it would be a loss for his party.
"For our team she is one of the most experienced members when it comes to the house. But I also would say ... she is exactly the kind of person that I believe Nova Scotians would want to represent them."
Before she entered provincial politics Whalen served as a Halifax municipal councillor and also worked as a management consultant.
Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press