"It's the right decision at the right time." That from Portage-Lisgar MP Candice Bergen who announced Tuesday that after 14 years, she would not be seeking to re-claim her seat in the next federal election.
"I feel very blessed. I feel very grateful," she added. "Politics is a very satisfying job and really, a life, but there can be a lot of demands. And so, I felt it was important that I thoughtfully make the decision - obviously with discussions with my husband and family - and I wanted to leave on a high note. I feel that in every way, I've accomplished a lot and that I can be very proud of what I've accomplished (including) what my staff has done, what my team has done."
Bergen, who is currently Leader of the Official Opposition and the Conservative Party of Canada, feels the last seven months of her career have been some of the most important. That included bringing the party's Caucus back together, she noted.
"There was a lot of dis-unity, a lot of distrust, a lot of negativity when I took over and so, I'm very happy that I've been able to - with the help of my caucus - bring everybody back together, restore trust, restore unity and see the party grow to over 678 thousand memberships over the last seven months," she explained.
Since getting elected in 2008, Bergen has served on several committees, was named Minister of State for Social Development in 2013 by then-prime minister, Stephen Harper. She's also held several leadership positions with the federal Conservatives since forming the Official Opposition, including her current post as party Leader.
"I still look back and I think about when I first was nominated and I realized that I probably would become the Member of Parliament for Portage-Lisgar...and I remember that daunting feeling," said Bergen. "I think for many women, we feel like we're never quite capable enough and we don't quite know enough...and I realized that I did know what I needed to and that I could learn. I worked hard and had amazing support from volunteers, campaign workers and my staff who have just been incredible over the last fourteen/fifteen years.
"Together, I feel that we've been able to help so many people, bring literally millions of dollars worth of funding right across the riding, and I think most importantly, help people, work with people, get to know people, listen to people. That's been very gratifying," added Bergen.
As a woman with a young family at the time she first became elected, Bergen says it was well worth taking the risk.
Throughout all the ups and downs of her time if office, Bergen says she's tried to abide by a certain guiding principle that she set out for herself early on. It involves balancing her own personal convictions and beliefs with the wishes of her constituents as well as the party platform and leader she ran with. "Sometimes one outweighs the other, but they have proven to be a very good balance and kind of a tension," said Bergen.
Not yet ready to head off into full retirement, Bergen says she continues to keep an eye out for any new opportunities that may lie ahead, and is exploring what passions and interests she'd like to pursue after her term is up.